BIMCO has submitted a paper to the International Maritime Organization highlighting possible conflicting requirements between conventions on ship recycling and hazardous wastes.

BIMCO, together with Bangladesh, India, Norway, Pakistan and the International Chamber of Shipping, submitted the paper ahead of the 81st Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) meeting, taking place between 18 and 22 March.  

The paper highlighted the need to solve possible conflicting requirements of the Hong Kong Convention and the Basel Convention which, according to BIMCO, could have severe consequences for shipowners, ship recycling facilities and ships if unresolved. 

The Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships (the Hong Kong Convention) is due to enter into force on 26 June 2025.

Ahead of its entering into force, BIMCO and the co-signatories of the paper asked the MEPC of the IMO for more legal certainty.

It included clarification and assurances that shipowners and parties operating in compliance with the Hong Kong Convention will not be sanctioned as a violation of the Basel Convention on the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal (the Basel Convention). 

“The ratification of the Hong Kong Convention marks the beginning of a new era for the ship recycling industry,” BIMCO secretary general and CEO David Loosley said. 

“We must make sure that legal obstacles and conflicts between the two conventions governing the safe and sound recycling of ships do not limit the scope of this historic opportunity.” 

In some jurisdictions, contravention of the Basel Convention, as applied to ship recycling, has resulted in sanctions against shipowners and masters.   

One of the inconsistencies the paper asked the IMO to consider was related to hazardous waste.  

Once a ship has received an International Ready for Recycling Certificate (IRRC) under the Hong Kong Convention, it may at the same time be considered a hazardous waste under the provisions of the Basel Convention.  

During the entire validity period of the IRRC, the ship could risk being arrested for breach of the Basel Convention requirements while trading.   

Since both the Hong Kong Convention and the Basel Convention can apply to end-of-life ships, shipowners risk prosecution in cases when the shipowner has sent the ships for safe and environmentally sound recycling at yards that comply with the Hong Kong Convention in one of the four major recycling states, namely Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Türkiye.   

“We and the co-sponsors of this paper welcome and support the increased transparency and rising standards brought about by the Hong Kong Convention finally entering into force,” Mr Loosley said. 

“It is therefore crucial for the consistent implementation of the convention to ensure that compliance does not result in sanctions under the Basel Convention.” 

BIMCO, a non-profit organisation, has more than 2000 members in 130 countries and represents 62% of the world’s tonnage. 

Its global membership includes shipowners, operators, managers, brokers and agents.