August 27, 2020

1 Min Read

Ship-breaking—the process of breaking old ships down into spare parts and valuable materials for recycling—is dangerous work. Most end-of-life ships sold for dismantling end up in South Asian or West African countries where the work is “lucrative, supports many livelihoods and serves as a source of raw materials for local industries.”

But, as pointed out by a group of researchers with a forthcoming study in Journal of Cleaner Production, “it is increasingly clear that when these ships reach the end of their lives, they pose a threat to people and the environment.” A World Bank report estimates that by 2030, Bangladesh and Pakistan will have accumulated millions of tons of hazardous waste (including asbestos, hazardous chemicals, paints containing heavy metals, and ozone-depleting substances) from ship breaking. 

The researchers reviewed the existing methods currently used by ship-breaking yards and found that none “were completely effective at controlling the spread of hazardous materials.” So they developed a new process, which would take place on a specially constructed bed (instead of the muddy surfaces usually used) and that could be implemented without significant cost.

“The bed would be made of four layers, using concrete materials, pebbles and sand. As each layer will have a different level of porosity and ability to regulate how materials pass through it, hazardous materials and wastes would be trapped effectively and not be able to reach the base of the bed – or flow into the sea.”

They also point out the merits of “extending the idea of extended producer responsibility to ship makers and shipping companies.”

 View the original article here.

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