Bangladesh and Liberia have deposited their instruments of accession to the Hong Kong Convention, marking a significant step towards the entry into force of the International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships. The convention, aimed at ensuring safe and environmentally friendly practices in ship recycling, will come into effect within 24 months, specifically in June 2025.
The Hong Kong Convention sets standards to ensure that ships, when recycled at the end of their operational lives, do not pose risks to human health, safety, and the environment. Its entry into force requires the fulfillment of specific criteria: at least 15 states, accounting for no less than 40% of the world’s merchant shipping by gross tonnage, and a ship recycling capacity of not less than 3% of the combined gross tonnage of those states.
These conditions have now been met, with Bangladesh and Liberia becoming Contracting States to the convention. Bangladesh is known as one of the largest ship recycling countries in terms of capacity, while Liberia is one of the world’s largest flag States in terms of tonnage.
On June 26, 2023, Her Excellency Ms. Saida Muna Tasneem, the High Commissioner and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and The Honourable Lenn Eugene Nagbe, Commissioner and CEO of the Liberia Maritime Authority, deposited their instruments of accession with IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim at the IMO Headquarters in London. Liberia’s accession played a crucial role in meeting the required tonnage criteria for entry into force.
Secretary-General Lim praised Bangladesh and Liberia for their commitments to the Hong Kong Convention, stating that their actions trigger the global regime for safe and environmentally sound ship recycling. He also acknowledged the significant progress made by Bangladesh in improving its ship recycling regulations and standards. Lim expressed gratitude to the Government of Norway for supporting the IMO-implemented project on Safe and Environmentally Sound Ship Recycling in Bangladesh (SENSREC), which facilitated Bangladesh’s accession. He encouraged other member states to join the convention as soon as possible.
Ms. Tasneem emphasized the global leadership and commitment of Bangladesh as a major ship recycling country, thanking Secretary-General Lim, the Government of Norway, and international organizations for their support in advancing the industry’s safety and sustainability.
Mr. Nagbe highlighted Liberia’s responsibility in ensuring safe and environmentally responsible practices in the maritime industry. He expressed pride in Liberia’s accession to the convention, which will enhance the country’s regulatory framework and attract additional investments in responsible ship recycling worldwide.
The Hong Kong Convention, adopted in 2009, addresses all environmental and safety aspects related to ship recycling, including the management and disposal of waste streams. It places obligations on various parties involved in ship recycling, including shipowners, shipbuilding yards, recycling facilities, flag states, port states, and recycling states.
Once the convention enters into force, ships intended for recycling will be required to carry an Inventory of Hazardous Materials onboard. Authorized ship recycling facilities will need to provide a Ship Recycling Plan specific to each vessel, and governments must ensure compliance with the convention by recycling facilities under their jurisdiction.
Currently, the Hong Kong Convention has 22 contracting parties, including countries such as Belgium, India, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal. These parties represent approximately 45.81% of the world’s merchant shipping by gross tonnage. Over the past decade, the combined annual ship recycling volume of the contracting parties amounted to 3.31% of the required recycling volume.
Bangladesh’s accession to the Hong Kong Convention follows the launch of Phase III of the IMO-implemented project SENSREC, which focuses on safe and environmentally sound ship recycling in the country. The project, funded by Norway since 2015, has played a significant role in promoting the convention’s ratification in Bangladesh. SENSREC has worked closely with key stakeholders and the Bangladesh Ship Breakers and Recyclers Association to develop a comprehensive understanding of the industry’s challenges and opportunities. Phase III will provide further support to Bangladesh in complying with the convention, including technical assistance and the establishment of Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facilities.