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International Shipbreaking

A nature positive approach end of life ships

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  • What we know
  • What we’re doing
  • What it’s worth

What we know

70% of the world’s obsolete ships that end up in South Asia, where they are broken under rudimentary conditions on the beaches with significant human costs and environmental impacts are significant.

Changing how the world manages big marine structures like ships and oil platforms at the end of their useful lives can have a significant impact on marine pollution. The highest environmental standards for ship recycling are the EU Ship Recycling Regulation (EU SSR) and as of July 2020, only 9 recycling sites were accredited to this standard.

International Shipbreaking looking to lead on green ship recycling, it is part of EMR, a global metal and plastics recycling company.  The company is based in the Port of Brownsville, Texas and has recently gained EU SSR accreditation for the site after investing $30 million in environmental infrastructure.

International Shipbreaking works with Friends of RGV Reef to support the not-for-profit organisation’s efforts to create an artificial fish habitat offshore of South Padre Island – a barrier island of Texas’ southern coast.

The island is known for its beaches, calm waters, and nature. South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center is home to a five-storey watch tower with views of migrating birds. South Padre Island Dolphin Research & Sealife Nature Center offers boat tours and touch tanks. Sea turtles are rescued and rehabilitated at Sea Turtle Inc.

RGV Reef is an innovative project designed to create habitat for juvenile red snapper. The project’s aim is to increase the red snapper population by between 60,000 and 240,000 in its first two years.[i]


What we’re doing

Since it was acquired by EMR, International Shipbreaking has continuously invested in people, processes and environmental infrastructure to ensure ships are recycled to the highest standards. The EU SSR standards are a confirmation of this effort.

However, done well, recycling can also be a friend to nature. Over the past few years, International Shipbreaking has provided support and volunteers to support RGV Reef’s work.

Since its formation in 2015, Friends of RGV Reef has carried out numerous projects to create fish habitats in the Gulf of Mexico. To date, it has deployed a range of materials to seed the reef including two donated fishing vessels, 3000 tonnes of concrete culverts and highway dividers, 1500 tonnes of broken-up concrete slabs, dozens of reefing pyramids, 600 tonnes of concrete roof tiles and railroad ties, and over 60,000 cinder blocks.

This variety of reef substrates provides valuable cover for baby fish to escape predators and strong currents while providing an abundance of prey and high-profile habitat for large adults. In turn, this reefing strategy creates a stable food web and habitat matrix that will allow for the continued recovery of red snapper and other important Gulf species.[i]

As a thank you for its support, EMR was asked to name the next vessel to be scuttled as an artificial reef. The decision was made to name this vessel after International Shipbreaking Ltd. On Wednesday, October 14, 2020, the vessel was sunk to the bottom of the Gulf to become artificial fish habitat.


illustration of three birds in navy

What it’s worth

In the first half of 2021, there were approximately 275 large ships recycled including 130 tankers, 50 bulk vessels and 10 container ships. The combined deadweight of these vessels was around 12 million tonnes, yielding a total metal revenue of more than $4 billion.


Here at International Shipbreaking, we care passionately about the environment and we are delighted to support groups such as Friends of RGV Reef. The group works tirelessly to ensure environmental continuity for local fish populations, work which will increase ecosystems in the years to come and educates communities about the importance of conservation.

Chris Green General Manager, International Shipbreaking Ltd.