Yacht recycling: legal perspective

From a legal perspective, the disposal of yachts and other vessels is a complex issue that involves various stages, from the prevention and reduction of waste generation to the actual handling of wastes. This life-cycle approach to waste management includes collection, transport, monitoring, and treatment (re-use, recycling, energy recovery, and final disposal, e.g., landfill) of wastes including the after-care of waste facilities.

The EU Ship Recycling Regulation (EU SRR)

The primary legal framework regulating yacht recycling in Europe is the EU Ship Recycling Regulation (EU SRR), which came into effect in 2013. The EU SRR aims to reduce the negative impacts associated with the recycling of EU-flagged ships, ensuring environmentally sound practices that do not jeopardize human health or the environment.

The EU SRR also aligns with the provisions of the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships (HKC), adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 2009 but not yet in force globally.

Scope of the EU SRR

The EU SRR applies to all ships flying the flag of an EU Member State, as well as to ships from third countries that call at EU ports or anchorages. As of December 31, 2020, all covered ships must have an Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM) on board, identifying and quantifying materials posing risks to health or the environment during recycling.

The IHM must be verified and certified by the relevant flag state or a recognized organization. Furthermore, covered ships must be recycled only at facilities listed in the European List of ship recycling facilities (EU List), which includes facilities within and outside the EU, meeting high environmental and safety standards.

As of now, the EU List features 43 facilities, with 34 in Europe and nine in Turkey.

Yachts Over 500 GT

Yachts with a gross tonnage (GT) exceeding 500 fall under the EU SRR’s scope and must comply with its requirements. Owners and operators must ensure a valid IHM certificate on board and adhere to recycling exclusively at EU List facilities. Failure to do so may result in fines, penalties, or detention of the yacht by port state control authorities.

Yachts Below 500 GT

Yachts under 500 GT are generally not covered by the EU SRR, except when classified as hazardous waste under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (Basel Convention).

The Basel Convention governs the export and import of hazardous waste between participating countries to safeguard human health and the environment from such waste’s adverse effects. It mandates prior informed consent from both exporting and importing nations before any transboundary movement of hazardous waste occurs.

Sustainable Luxury and Social Responsibility

Yacht recycling is not just a legal obligation; it provides an opportunity for yacht owners and operators to demonstrate commitment to sustainability and social responsibility. Environmentally responsible recycling contributes to reducing marine pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, resource depletion, and human rights violations.

By choosing environmentally sound recycling practices, yacht owners can enhance their reputation and brand image, appealing to customers, partners, regulators, and society at large. Yacht recycling is a vital aspect of sustainable luxury.

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