Maersk: designing ships that can be dismantled and reused

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Maersk is a Danish logistics operator dedicated to providing maritime navigation services, with a fleet of container ships.

According to Maersk, around 85% of all ships are dismantled at sub-standard facilities in South Asia, despite the responsible ship recycling policies adopted by many shipowners. The end result of this is low salaries and a dangerous working environment for the people taking the ships apart, environment pollution, and unfair competition within the shipping sector.

Maersk has been developing ways to build recyclable ships that can be dismantled and reused. They want to design ships which can be recycled into new ships when they reach the end of their lives.

The company has developed a database called Cradle to Cradle Passport. This documents around 95% of the materials used to build the ships, allowing for more efficient recycling of parts and materials. To allow designers to reuse everything possible down to the screws, the materials used in liners are sorted into three categories:

  1. high-grade steel
  2. low-grade steel
  3. miscellaneous


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Maersk has taken the following steps:

  • it has adopted the Responsible Ship Recycling Standard which describes the conditions under which ships can be recycled, regardless of the recycling method applied
  • it has signed up to the Ship Recycling Transparency Initiative (SRTI), an online platform where shipowners can report information on ship recycling using predefined disclosure criteria. Through this platform, cargo owners and financial stakeholders can access information on different companies' approaches to ship recycling. The objective is to improve ship recycling policy, practice and performance.