Environmental, social and governance (ESG) encompasses a wide range of concepts. That includes, as The China Navigation Company (CNCo) has done, applying the principle of Extended Producer Responsibility to the vessels it no longer needs
Ahead of taking part in Riviera Maritime Media’s Maritime Environmental Social and Governance Webinar Week, CNCo general manager of sustainable development Simon Bennett pointed out the dichotomy between the care and attention shipping companies invest in the creation and operation of their tonnage, with the indifference when it comes to disposing of old tonnage.
Although the ship remains the property of the shipyard during construction and up to the end of the (successful) sea trial, the new owner will take great care to ensure the vessel is as required. It is not unusual for an owner to have six superintendents crawling all over the ship checking the quality of workmanship in various areas.
Following successful sea trials, the owner takes over the ship, and for the next 20 to 30 years will continue to care for their investment, making sure the equipment works, it is not abused and the necessary spare parts are on board. “Some owners’ sell the ship, after having taken all this care of it for decades, and then having signed the S&P contract, those owners go about their business and never devote a single further thought to what’s happening to it, ever again,” said Mr Bennett.
“We at The China Navigation Company believe we have a responsibility for the ship at the end of its life, as much as during its life,” he said. “We will not walk away when we sign the sale document.”
The China Navigation Company is a founder member of the Ship Recycling Transparency Initiative, which uses transparency to drive responsibility on ship recycling.
In the last five years, CNCo has recycled 16 vessels. Some of these were recycled in specialist yards in China, before the ban on importing ships for disposal there. Since then, China Navigation has used only Hong Kong Convention-compliant yards in India.
“Even though the ship has been purchased by a cash buyer and then sold on to the recycling yard, and so China Navigation is actually two steps removed from ownership, under the sales contract China Navigation retains the right to inspect and if necessary issue a Stop Work notice,” he said.
The Stop Work notice is applied if there is potential for an accident or environmental spill, or if this occurs. Mr Bennett noted that the recycling yards fully understand these requirements from responsible owners to retain control of the method used in the recycling.
The recycling yards are the main beneficiary from this relationship. The highly qualified personnel employed by the China Navigation Company to advise the recycling yard’s management are passing on knowledge on marine safe-working practices. In the process they are raising local capacity, and seeking to remove or mitigate the likelihood of accidents to staff and environmental incidents.
This is seen as a natural responsibility of all owners, and is not a revenue-raising line item.
Sign up here for the free Maritime Environmental Social and Governance Webinar Week, series of ESG-related webinars.