Built in 1985, M/V Tristan’s service life came to an end recently after years of shipping cargo around the world. Once it was time to take her off the seas, there was no question as to what would happen next.
Practising responsible logistics is the foundation of how WWL and its owners, Wallenius Shipping and Wilh. Wilhelmsen, operate. One of the cornerstones of that foundation is to remain environmentally conscious at every turn. Sustainable management of its fleet doesn’t just apply to when a vessel is in service; it continues throughout its lifecycle and is why Wallenius Shipping contracts Dutch recycling experts Sea2Cradle to take on the challenging task of repurposing decommissioned vessels.
“The standard we aspire to in all our recycling projects is ‘Zero Incidents, Zero Accidents and Zero Pollution’,” says Sea2Cradle’s Managing Director, Tom Peter Blankestijn. “Wallenius contracts us to assist in recycling their obsolete vessels in a green way, delivering the highest quality in terms of health, safety and the environment.”
In Tristan’s case, the recycling took place over the course of 12 weeks in 2015 at Zhoushan Changhong International Ship recycling in Zhoushan, China. The recycling process in general attracted quite a bit of attention – including a visit from the president of People's Republic of China, Mr. Xi Jinping, on 25 May.
During the process, the vessel is kept stable in wet dock and is first pre-cleaned of all hazardous waste, stores, oils, loose equipment and furniture. Large sections are then cut and lifted out using cranes and loaded onto trucks. They are delivered to a cutting site where they are cut into small pieces and prepared for steel melting.
According to Blankestijn, approximately 95 per cent of a vessel can typically be recycled or reused. In some cases, this number may be as high as 98 per cent. However, some parts are not suitable for recycling.
“Hazardous wastes, which include asbestos, ozone-depleting substances, batteries, mercury and various types of fuel, are treated by specialist companies, while other unsuitable items are burnt in incinerators or brought to controlled landfills,” he says.
Tristan’s parts are likely to become new steel materials in the maritime industry, while machinery such as generators and other equipment will be used as spare parts on board similar vessel types.
The Hong Kong Convention
To help ensure the safe recycling of ships worldwide, IMO member states and non-governmental organizations created an agreement known as the Hong Kong Convention. Developed in 2009, the convention states that ships, when being recycled after reaching the end of their operational lives, should not pose any unnecessary risk to human health and safety or to the environment. The convention has not yet entered into force, as additional ratification is needed to reach the threshold of 15 governments representing 40% of the world’s merchant shipping.
The convention addresses all the issues around ship recycling, including the fact that ships sold for scrapping may contain environmentally hazardous substances such as asbestos, heavy metals, hydrocarbons, ozone depleting substances and others. It will address concerns about working and environmental conditions in many of the world’s ship recycling facilities. The convention also contains regulations covering design and construction of new vessels, to enable easier recycling, as well as requirements for recycling yards to provide ship recycling plans.