Chapter 4: End-of-life ships as hazardous waste under the Basel Convention and the EU Waste Shipment Regulation
Open access

This chapter introduces the main elements of shipbreaking as a global activity, outlining its key characteristics, involving various state and non-state actors. It discusses the current unsustainable shipbreaking practices, which entail a wide array of environmental, health and safety implications. The analysis also focuses on the main challenges in relation to the categorisation of end-of-life ships as waste or as a commodity based on the subjective understandings of the waste/product concept embedded in the ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ maxim. Lastly, the chapter reviews the overlapping regimes applicable to shipbreaking at the international level, under UNEP, the IMO and the UNCLOS, along with the legislative developments at EU level. This analysis highlights the different approaches to regulating ship recycling and the difficulties in striking the right balance between its environmental, economic, social, and health and safety aspects when moving towards the transition to sustainable ship recycling.