Hong Kong Ship Recycling Convention: A step towards sustainability in the maritime sector

July 31, 2023

The Hong Kong Ship Recycling Convention focuses on the maritime industry, which deploys a huge fleet of ships that, over time, become obsolete and need to be scrapped.

However, ship dismantling has historically been a source of concern due to its negative impacts on the environment and worker safety.

In 2009, in order to address these challenges, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted the Hong Kong Ship Recycling Convention. This international agreement aims to improve the conditions for the recycling of vessels and promote safe and sustainable practices in this industry.

Context of the Hong Kong Convention

The Hong Kong Convention is the first globally binding treaty which specifically addresses ship recycling.

He was adopted during a diplomatic conference in Hong Kong in 2009. and came into force in 2019, after ratification by a sufficient number of IMO member states.

The main objective of the agreement is to ensuring that ship recycling is carried out in a safe and environmentally responsible manner, thus minimizing negative impacts on the oceans and on the health of workers involved in these operations.

Main objectives of the Agreement

The Hong Kong Convention is based on three fundamental pillars:

Safety and health protection

The agreement seeks to ensure the safety and health protection of the workers involved in ship recycling. It establishes rigorous requirements for training, personal protective equipment and emergency procedures to prevent accidents and minimize occupational hazards.

Environmental protection

Another important objective of the agreement is protect the marine environment and prevent pollution. To achieve this, member countries are required to establish ship recycling facilities that meet high environmental standards.

Guidelines are also established for the proper handling of toxic and hazardous substances present on ships.

Transparency and accountability

The agreement seeks to promote transparency and accountability in the process of ship recycling.

It requires ships destined for recycling to be pre-certified sufficiently in advance, allowing recipient countries to take the necessary measures to ensure safe and environmentally responsible recycling.

Obligations of the Member States

The Hong Kong Convention establishes a number of obligations for IMO member states that have ratified the agreement. These obligations include:

Implementation of recycling facilities

Member countries must establishing ship recycling facilities that meet the standards established in the agreement.

These facilities must to have the necessary infrastructures in place to carry out recycling in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.

Notification and follow-up

Receiving countries of ships destined for recycling should be notified well in advance of the arrival of the ships. In addition, the requires proper monitoring of the vessels throughout the process to ensure their correct management.

Training and awareness

Member States must promote training and awareness of all parties involved in ship recycling, including workers, ship owners and competent authorities.

Training is essential for ensure the effective implementation of the agreement and the adoption of safe and sustainable practices.

Progress and challenges

Since its entry into force in 2019, the Hong Kong Convention has made significant progress in improving ship recycling conditions worldwide. However, there are still challenges to be faced, such as the need to increase the number of countries ratifying the convention and the effective implementation of its provisions.


The Hong Kong Ship Recycling Convention represents an important step towards sustainability in the maritime sector.

Through the promotion of safe and environmentally responsible practices, this international agreement seeks to protect both the oceans and the workers involved in ship recycling.

However, its success depends on the collaboration and commitment of all IMO member countries to ensure its effective implementation and to achieve a more sustainable future for the maritime industry.

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