Ship Recycling: A Crucial Player in Achieving COP 28 Objectives and Combating Climate Change

08 Dec 2023
Author: Dr. Anand Hiremath

As the world grapples with the escalating challenges of climate change, the focus on sustainable practices across various industries has never been more crucial. Ship recycling, particularly in India, stands out as a significant contributor to these sustainability efforts. With over 110 Hong Kong Convention (HKC)-compliant yards, India is at the forefront of green ship recycling, playing a pivotal role in meeting the objectives set by COP 28, the 28th UN Climate Change Conference.

Correlation with COP 28 Objectives



Ship recycling is a major player in the decarbonization drive. By reusing and recycling steel, Indian yards substantially cut down on the need for new steel production, thereby reducing CO2 emissions associated with manufacturing and transportation. This aligns perfectly with the goals of COP 28, which stress the need for immediate and effective measures to combat climate change.

Embracing the Circular Economy

A key theme of COP 28 is the circular economy. India’s ship recycling industry is a textbook example of this concept, reusing and recycling about 97% of a ship's materials. This not only showcases sustainable resource utilization but also sets a precedent for other industries.

Reducing GHG Emissions in Transportation

With transportation, including shipping, being a significant contributor to GHG emissions, the eco-friendly practices in Indian shipyards are directly in line with COP 28’s mission to lower emissions from this sector.

Data and Facts


Steel Recycling Efficiency

In stark contrast to European yards where 85% of steel is directed to electric arc furnaces, Indian practices are much more efficient. Approximately 70% of ship steel is rerolled, 10% is repurposed into profile plates, and the remaining 10% is used as melting scrap. This efficiency not only saves resources but also energy.

Environmental Impact of Steel Recycling

The environmental benefits of steel recycling in India are substantial. Recycling one ton of steel saves significant amounts of virgin resources, energy, and landfill space. The cumulative impact, evidenced by the recycling of over 8,500 ships in Alang, is monumental.

Additional Material Recycling

Indian ship recycling goes beyond steel. The recovery and reuse of wood contribute to saving forest cover and capturing CO2, while the recycling of non-ferrous metals adds economic value and highlights the sustainability of the process.

Ship Recycling and Global Climate Objectives


Aligning with Global Efforts

At COP28, leaders from various countries emphasized the urgent need for climate action. Ship recycling aligns with these global efforts by reducing emissions, promoting circular economies, and enhancing resource efficiency. This practice demonstrates a proactive approach to meeting the Paris Agreement goals, as emphasized in the conference.
The efficient practices in ship recycling, such as reducing GHG emissions and promoting a circular economy, contribute to lowering the overall environmental impact. This aligns with the global need for sustainable practices, supporting the rationale behind such funds.

Moral Imperative of Environmental Protection: The environmentally conscious approach of ship recycling in India, adhering to international norms and minimizing waste, reflects the ethical consideration emphasized by global leaders.

Urgency of Collective Action: The ship recycling industry’s move towards more sustainable practices is an example of the type of proactive, collective action called for by leaders like U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris.
By advancing sustainable practices in industries like ship recycling, countries can contribute to the broader objectives discussed at COP28, such as reducing environmental impact and promoting global cooperation in climate action.

The emphasis on collective action, as highlighted by leaders like U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, resonates with the collaborative efforts seen in the ship recycling industry. The industry's transformation showcases the type of change needed to address the climate crisis, aligning with the sentiment expressed by global leaders at COP28.

Fostering Sustainable Practices

Ship recycling in India not only meets the objectives of the country but also sets an example for other nations seeking sustainable industrial practices. By adhering to international safety and environmental standards, it presents a framework that other countries can emulate, contributing to the collective goal of combating climate change.



The transformation of India’s ship recycling industry from a negative image to a model of sustainability is a testament to its alignment with COP 28 goals. The industry’s commitment to HKC compliance, combined with its economic and environmental benefits, positions India as a key player in the global fight against climate change. The implementation of regulations like the UAE Ship Recycling Regulation (UAE SRR), which supports environmentally friendly practices, should further endorse India's approach as it aligns with COP28 objectives. Recognizing and supporting the efforts of the Indian and Gujarat Governments in this endeavor is crucial for fostering a sustainable and environmentally conscious maritime world.

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About Author

Dr. Anand M. Hiremath, Chief Sustainability Officer of GMS Leadership, is a Civil Engineer and holds a Master's Degree in Environmental Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IIT Guwahati) India. He has a diploma in industrial safety and is a qualified lead auditor for ISO 9k, 14k and 184.

Dr. Hiremath published the first practical handbook on ship recycling, entitled: 'The Green Handbook: A Practical Checklist to Monitor the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships' which highlights the procedures the GMS SSORP follows to help both Ship and Yard Owners recycle a vessel in an environmentally-friendly manner. Dr. Hiremath is the Course Director for the first-of-its-kind 14-week online course on Ship Recycling offered by Lloyd's Maritime Academy, London."

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Ship Recycling Team