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IMO’s Hong Kong Ship Recycling Convention will finally enter into force 14 years after adoption

Published on 5 July 2023

A landmark moment at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as conditions for the entry into force of the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships (the ‘Hong Kong Convention’) have been met which ensure new approaches on ship recycling.

The Hong Kong Convention was adopted at a diplomatic conference, attended by delegates from 63 countries, held in Hong Kong, China, from 11 to 15 May 2009, but it has taken 14 years for it to be ratified, the necessary legal process to trigger entry into force.

With the ratification of the Convention by Bangladesh and Liberia on the first day of the 15th session of IMO’s  Intersessional Working Group on Green Houses Gases, the Convention is set to enter into force in 24 months’ time on 26 June 2025.

IMO Headquarters, London.
IMCA Contact

Margaret Fitzgerald
Head of Legal & Regulatory Affairs

The Convention is aimed at addressing 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 embraces the “cradle to grave” concept (also known as ‘circularity’), addressing all environmental and safety aspects relating to ship recycling, including the responsible management and disposal of associated waste streams in a safe and environmentally sound manner. Sustainable ship recycling will also result in a reduction of emissions from shipping. The Convention will also address concerns raised about the working and environmental conditions at many of the world’s ship recycling locations.

According to the IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim: “This is a momentous day for IMO, and it is indeed a historical development for the international shipping industry, for the marine environment, and especially for workers and local communities in ship recycling countries globally.”

However, this is not the only regulation for ship recycling. Within the European Union, the EU Ship Recycling Regulation (EU SRR) applies and is more stringent than the Hong Kong Convention will be.

Members with an interest in this area can log into our website to access an IMCA produced Information Note on the recycling of ships which was published in November 2020 and which provides further information on the regimes under the EU SSR and the Hong Kong Convention

Margaret Fitzgerald, IMCA’s Head of Legal & Regulatory Affairs, said: “This is good news for the  global shipping sector which, through this IMO Convention, will be able demonstrate a strong commitment to both safe and environmentally responsible ship recycling which can result in reduced carbon emissions.”