Recycling a ship is a challenging process due to the structural complexity and the many environmental, safety and health issues involved. A variety of hazardous substances may be present in the structures and equipment of ships and installations, posing risks during decommissioning and recycling as well as during operations.
Adopted in May 2009, the text of the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships will place responsibilities on shipbuilders, shipowners, recycling facilities and national authorities to ensure safe and environmentally viable conditions within the ship recycling industry. The main responsibilities are:
As part of the requirements for shipyards and shipowners, an Inventory of Hazardous Materials, formerly a "Green Passport", will be required for each new ship and for existing ships not later than five years after the entry into force of the Hong Kong Convention. Ratification may take about 10 years, meaning it could be an internationally mandatory instrument from 2020. However, the IHM has already become an industry best practice standard and more and more shipowners see the benefit of having an inventory for their ships.
The IHM quantifies and locates hazardous materials onboard ships which are known to represent a potential hazard to people and the environment.