Green Ship Breaking

Just north of Chittagong lays miles of shipbreaking, a dangerous and environmentally hazardous business that is ready for change.  

Green Ship Recycling is the goal of the Atlas Initiative. It is not yet a reality but it can eventually be. As Bangladesh seeks to make a regulated industry of ship recycling, using transparent safety and environmentally sound practices balanced with the challenge of keeping its competitive edge, the industry is evolving as government and trade associations help pave the way.

Shipbreaking in Bangladesh started in the 1960’s almost by accident as a ship stranded on a beach around Chittagong. Metal works companies bought the ship as scrap and the Bangladeshi shipbreaking industry was born.

Due to economic reasons, the shipbreaking business shifted from the west to south Asia in the eighties. In the west, a ship’s end of life was a liability do to the high cost of dismantling a ship. In India, China, Pakistan and Bangladesh they became an asset as ship owners could actually be paid for their decommissioned ships.

The steel from the ships is recycled into the Bangladeshi construction making the economy less reliant on importing steel. 95% of the ship can be recycled.

The safety of the workers and their low wages contribute to the poor reputation of the Bangladeshi ship breaking industry, the other main issue is containment of the toxic liquids that seep out of the ship as it is dismantled.

Many global NGOs, labor organizations and the International Maritime Organization have put forth recommendations such as the following:

• Ship breaking yards should be open to inspection by NGOs, trade unions, and other groups.
• Operating ships should be made cleaner through maintenance and retrofitting.
• A global regulatory regime should be developed and fully implemented to regulate ship breaking.
• The next generation of ships should be constructed to reduce health, safety, and environmental impacts at the time of decommissioning.
• Ship owners and flag state holders should be responsible for the clean and safe dismantling of ships.
• Workers should be protected through improved safety practices in the yards. 

This website endeavors to bring news, ideas and discussions about ways to transform Bangladeshi shipbreaking into real Green Ship Recycling that will continue to support the economy and workforce of Bangladesh whilst raising the bar on safety and the environment
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The Atlas Initiative focuses on the Bangladesh Marine Academy and the Country’s Shipbreaking Industry. Dedicated to the Memory of Sanaullah Chowdhury, Founder of Atlas Shipping