Maersk is now ready to scrap its first vessels at the otherwise controversial and highly criticized scrapping yards on the beaches in Alang, India, informs the group in a statement Friday.
The two vessels Maersk Wyoming and Maersk Georgia will arrive in Alang at the end of this month. The vessels will be scrapped at yards which have been approved as complying with the current requirements set out in the Hong Kong convention for shipbreaking.
"The Alang plans come at a cost for us, but we will invest money and human resources to ensure we can already now scrap our vessels in compliance with the Hong Kong Convention provisions (HSE) as well as international standards on labor conditions and anti-corruption. We will also have staff on-site at Shree Ram. They will be working closely with the yard to further upgrade practices, processes and facilities to ensure that the recycling of our vessels complies with our standards," says Annette Stubbe, Head of Sustainability at Maersk Group.
Maersk Group announced back in February that the company wanted to have a showdown with the controversial shipbreaking facilities in Alang, the most infamous of the scrapping beaches in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Ships are sailed on to the beaches in a practice known as "beaching", where the employees dismantle the vessels under dangerous conditions and mostly without protective equipment while the environment also suffers as a result.
"We want to play a role in ensuring that responsible recycling becomes a reality in Alang, India. To find sustainable solutions, we are working on building a broader coalition with other ship owners and have initiated engagement with a number of carefully selected yards in Alang. This includes improving local waste facilities and hospitals - and upgrading the housing conditions for the migrant workers in Alang," Annette Stube said at the time.
Conditions far from fantastic
But this statement was met with criticism from several NGOs which fight for better conditions at the controversial yards in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.
"The situation in Alang is not 'fantastic' as stated by Maersk. Similar conditions would not be accepted in Denmark, in any other shipping nation in Europe, or in the shipping hubs in East Asia. By selling ships to the Alang beach, Maersk is externalizing costs for proper recycling and undermining the standard set by the European Ship Recycling Regulation," said Patrizia Heidegger, Executive Director of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.
Annette Stube replied as follows in March during an interview with ShippingWatch:
"I think that we agree with Shipbreaking Platform on most things. Also when it comes to what standards are the right to have. But our minds do not meet when it comes to how we ensure this development. Is this best done by staying out of it and waiting for them to reach the necessary level, or is it done best by engaging on the ground? We have chosen the latter option. If there is no business to develop, then they will have no money to generate the motivation and further improvement of standards. We have to support the cycle which has begun."