The Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009 (the Hong Kong Convention), was adopted at a diplomatic conference held in Hong Kong in 2009, attended by delegates from 63 countries.
The Convention is aimed at ensuring that ships, when being recycled are handled in a manner which does not pose any unnecessary risks to human health, safety and to the environment.
The Hong Kong Convention address 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 also addresses concerns raised about the working and environmental conditions at many of the world’s ship recycling locations.
Complementing the Hong Kong Convention is a requirement for a “Green Passport”. This is is the unofficial name adopted for all vessels to carry a document listing all potentially hazardous materials on board a vessel. This document would stay with the ship throughout its lifespan and until it is eventually sent to a ship breaking yard. Officially, this is what is known as an “Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM)” which will come into place along with the Convention.
Ship recycling yards will in future be required to provide a “Ship Recycling Plan”, specifying the manner in which each ship will be recycled and Convention signatories will also be required to ensure that ship recycling facilities under their jurisdiction comply with the Convention.