Bangladesh has maintained its position as the leading nation in decline recycling, despite a 65% decrease in shipbreaking activities, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
The country, responsible for over one-third of global ship recycling, saw a drop from 8.02 million tonnes in the previous year to 2.8 million tonnes in the 12 months leading up to January 2023.
Several factors contributed to this decline, including a dollar crisis, reduced demand due to nearing completion of mega projects, high scrap prices in international markets, and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Stakeholders pointed out that as government-led mega projects neared completion, the demand for steel products in local markets decreased, discouraging shipbreakers from importing more vessels. The Ukraine-Russia war disrupted ship imports.
Difficulties in obtaining US dollars due to high bank exchange rates, rising international scrap ship prices, and the widening gap between local and international markets further contributed to the decline in ship dismantling activities.
According to UNCTAD data, Bangladesh recycled 2.8 million tonnes of ships in the 12 months to January 2023, making up 37.2% of the world total. India followed with 32%, and Pakistan with 17%. The majority of ships recycled in Bangladesh were oil tankers (50.4%), followed by bulk carriers (41%).
In contrast, from January 2021 to January 2022, Bangladesh recycled 8.02 million tonnes of ships, accounting for 52.4% of the world’s total, with a majority being oil tankers.
Despite disruptions and financial pressures, this year saw an increase in interest in ship recycling as shipping market conditions softened and issues related to letters of credit in Bangladesh improved.
In 2023, ship recycling is expected to receive a boost as shipowners renew and upgrade their fleets to comply with new Greenhouse Gas emission regulations. The market may also become more volatile due to regulations assessing CO2 emissions intensity.
In 2022, 7.5 million gross tonnes, representing less than 0.5% of the total active fleet, were sent for recycling, driven by market conditions and increasing demand for older tonnage.
China, Greece, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and China are among the leading ship-owning countries.
Asian countries dominate cargo handling performance, with 18 of the top 25 ports globally located in Asia.
This data reflects the dynamic landscape of the ship recycling and shipping industries in Asia and the challenges faced by Bangladesh in maintaining its position as a top ship recycling nation.