MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company was named as shipping’s “worst corporate dumper” in 2023 for sending 14 of its ships for demolition at beaching yards in Alang India.

The unflattering description comes from the NGO Shipbreaking Platform in its latest annual report, named Toxic Tide.

The environmental lobby group claims that the beaching method of recycling ships adopted by yards in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan is an unsustainable and unsafe method of breaking up ships.

“There is no possibility to take apart a ship on a beach in a way that is environmentally sustainable and safe for workers.

“Shipping companies are dodging their responsibility to make sure their toxic waste does not harm workers’ health and sensitive coastal environments,” said the Shipbreaking Platform director and founder Ingvild Jenssen.

The Shipbreaking Platform further claimed that MSC sent two ships, the 1,879-teu MSC Floriana (built 1986) and 2,098-teu MSC Giovanna (built 1987) for demolition from Spanish and Turkish waters which would put it in breach of international laws forbidding the export of hazardous waste from OECD countries.

MSC said it is committed to responsible ship recycling. It only demolishes ships at yards which are compliant with the Hong Kong Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships and are pre-vetted.

Alang yards are regarded as the most advanced in South Asia for compliance with environmental and safety standards and claim to meet the standards applied by the European Union.

In its sustainability report, MSC said: “We are encouraged by the significant progress in the Indian ship recycling industry, and welcome efforts to continue supporting local industries and further improving facility conditions towards the goal of inclusion in the European list of ship recycling facilities which to date does not yet include any shipyards in India.”

MSC has been contacted for comment.

Overall, beaching is the most popular method of demolishing end-of-life ships. The Shipbreaking Platform’s figures show that 325 of 446 ships demolished last year were broken up at beaching yards in 2023.

Bangladesh was the most active recycling country using the beaching technique, scrapping 170 ships, followed by India with 140 and Pakistan with 15.

It reported six people, aged between 24 and 65, died in ship demolition activities in Chattogram, Bangladesh, while it said others would suffer long-term health impacts from unprotected exposure to hazardous materials such as asbestos.

The Shipbreaking Platform also named Sinokor, Transworld Group, Evergreen, AP Moller-Maersk, Green Reefers, Harinsuit Transport among the companies that demolished the most ships in the region.

China is the worst national offender sending 71 ships for demolition in South Asia, including 59 in Bangladesh.