Hong Kong International Convention For Recycling of Ships Act 2019

Context: PM highlighted India’s efforts in growing the maritime sector and emerging as a leading Blue Economy of the world. Domestic ship recycling industry will also be promoted to create ‘Wealth from Waste’.India has enacted the Recycling of Ships Act 2019, and agreed to the Hong Kong International Convention– a treaty that set global standards for safe and environmentally sound ship recycling.


Hong Kong Convention For Recycling of Ships Act 2019 

    • The Hong Kong Convention intends to address all the issues around ship recycling.
    • It also addresses concerns raised about the working and environmental conditions at many of the world’s ship recycling locations.
    • It is enforced and monitored by the International Maritime Organization.
    • India, one of the world’s five major ship recycling countries and has acceded to the IMO Hong Kong Convention in 2019.
    • The Hong Kong Convention covers the design, construction, operation and maintenance of ships to ensure they can be recycled safely and in an environment-friendly way at the end of their lives. 
    • It also deals with how ships should be prepared for their final voyage to a recycling facility, without compromising their safety or operational efficiency.
  • Under the Hong Kong Convention, ships sent for recycling are required to carry an inventory of all hazardous materials on board.

Why are the ships toxic?

  • Ships sold for scrapping may contain environmentally hazardous substances such as asbestos, heavy metals, hydrocarbons, ozone-depleting substances and others. 


  • Asbestos is one of the most common and most hazardous materials found onboard ships. Asbestos is used, particularly in engine rooms, because of its thermal insulation and fire-resistant properties and is sandwiched between steel plates in the walls or in the doors.  

Heavy Metals

  • Lead, mercury, cadmium, zinc, lead, and copper can be found in many products onboard a vessel, such as paints, coating, insulation, batteries and electrical compounds. 

Mineral Oil

  • Workers can be exposed to toxic oil and fuel when they inhale the fumes released by torch-cutting on shipbreaking yards. 

Bilge and Ballast Water

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)

  • PAHs accumulate in dust and sediment, and tissues of life forms. 

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

  • When burned, they create some of the most hazardous substances known – dioxins and furans. 


  • Tributyltin (TBT) is an aggressive biocide, which means that it kills living organisms. 
  • It has been used in anti-fouling paints since the 1970s because it prevents micro-organisms such as barnacles and algae from accumulating on the ships hulls. 
  • It is considered as one of the most toxic compounds in aquatic ecosystems. 
  • TBT is responsible for the disruption of the endocrine system of marine shellfish leading to the development of male characteristics in female marine snails. 

Recycling of Ships Act 2019

    • The recycling of ships act 2019 Act restricts and prohibits the use or installation of hazardous material, irrespective of whether a ship is meant for recycling or not.
  • The Act will apply to: 
  • any new or existing ship which is registered in India, 
  • ships entering a port or terminal in India, or the territorial waters of India, 
  • any warship, or other ship owned and operated by an administration and used on government non-commercial service, and 
  • ship recycling facilities operating in India. 

What exactly is meant by ‘ship recycling?

    • The Act defines this as the dismantling of a ship at a designated facility in order to recover its components and materials for reuse and taking care of the hazardous material so produced.
    • Ship recycling includes associated operations such as storage and treatment of materials and components on-site.
    • Under the proposed law, ships will be recycled only in authorized recycling facilities.
    • India accounts for 30% of the breaking that happens currently, with 300 ships being recycled here every year. 
    • 99% of recycling happens in Gujarat’s Alang ship-breaking yard.
  • Note: Sagarmala Programme: Click here to read the complete current affairs topic

Do you Know?

  • The government has recently widened the ambit of the maritime sector by renaming the Ministry of Shipping as Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways so that work happens in a holistic manner.


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