In the third and final episode of Ganado Meets Maritime, partner Jotham Scerri-Diacono of Ganado Advocates teams up with ALFRED SHARPLES, a recycling expert and a senior at the Environment and Resources Authority, as they seek to better understand the nuances of ship recycling and vast regulatory framework that underpins the process, at international and EU levels.

Importance and relevance of recycling

Often seen as a controversial topic, recycling is essential to a contemporary society wishing to protect the environment. This principle, naturally, includes ships and rigs of all sorts that are at the end of their life, deemed non-seaworthy and to be treated and recycled at specialised facilities.

"The benefits of ship recycling are felt globally," Alfred Sharples says. "As the term implies, value is derived from materials."

As such, each aspect of a ship's construction must be dealt with individually and in an environmentally sound manner for effective recycling. These various processes usually involve removing hazardous materials, refurbishing and reusing certain parts of monetary value or even melting down scrap metal.

What governs ship recycling?

Several conventions, at international and EU levels, form part of the much-needed legal framework surrounding the global industry of ship recycling.

Inter­national treaties integrating specifically the recycling of ships exist, such as the Hong Kong Convention recently ratified by Malta, or the already well-established Basel Convention, which targets the removal of hazardous materials.

The Ship Recycling Regulation and Waste Shipment Regulation also exist as compre­hensive regulations on an EU level, both of which are applicable to Malta and largely act in tandem. The former mandates the recycling of all applicable vessels within the EU and provides several protocols and structures for member nations to follow and ensures the environmentally sound dismantlement of all targeted ships.

ERA and Malta's role

Once notified of a ship being recycled, the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) involves itself in the supervision of the end-of-life sequences of any ship. This includes not only its last voyage, but the start-to-finish provisions taken to ensure that it is recycled in line with international and EU regulations.

The ERA's responsibilities as an authoritative body are vast – stretching even to those vessels bound for recycling that are passing through the island, alongside with those regularly registered in Malta.

In-depth liaison is kept between both local and foreign transport and environment authorities to ensure that each vessel, before leaving Malta, is evaluated individually and fitted with the right clearances to proceed to each destination en route to its final recycling facility.

Procedures and communication

As with many processes, an application is usually the first step. The same is true of ship recycling; a form must be submitted with extensive detail on the end-of-life ship to be recycled along with supporting documentation, after which the form may be either rejected or stamped and approved by the relative authorities and sent off to the final facility.

"We use all means available to contact the authorities," Sharples explains.

Adequate communication is especially integral to a process as extensive and "lengthy" as ship recycling.

After submitting the application, the ERA is the body entrusted with circulating all relevant documentation and information to each jurisdiction involved either directly or indirectly with the vessel to be recycled.

Further documentation, requirements

Transport Malta, the local transport authority, then requests docu­mentation to support each individual application dependent primarily on the conventions, whether EU or international, that apply. These requests can quickly build an extensive list of paperwork required.

This documentation is related to all aspects of the process; the foreign authorities involved through the shipping route taken to the destination facility, types of materials and waste to be recycled on that specific vessel, alongside proof of any contracts or guarantees engaged between facilities, ship owners and banks. Even a surveyor's services will be required to provide a final inspection record for the ship.

The final voyage

Once most of the requested documentation is appropriate­ly filed, stamped and approved, the execution of the final voyage starts. A form tracking the movements of the planned final voyage is then vetted before the vessel departs, ensuring that all details of the planned recycling are accurate, together with a confirmation of the monetary guarantee, after which the ERA gives the go-ahead to Transport Malta and the vessel may set forth.

The movement tracking form is just one part of this finalisation. After this is submitted and officialised by the destination recycling facility, the ERA gives it its own approval and the ship sails forth to its final recycling facility – where it is dismantled and recycled. Final confirmation is then sent to the ERA by the receiving centre and the "circle is completed".


Ship recycling is inevitably a growing field in our focus on a greener economy, although it does come with its own difficulties. Communication between various foreign authorities and the ERA, whether through barriers of language or time zones, is one such struggle, despite growing international regulations.

The author would like to thank Mark Anthony Kuflewicz, for his assistance during the drafting of this article.
The article was first published in Times of Malta.

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