Interview: Sustainable Ship Recycling & Circular Economy


In an exclusive interview, our correspondence spoke to Dr. Anand HiremathChief Sustainability Officer of GMS, Inc. about Sustainable Ship Recycling & Circular Economy.

Dr. Anand Hiremath is a Civil Engineer and holds a master’s degree in Environmental Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IIT Guwahati), India. He spent six years carrying out extensive research and prepared a doctoral thesis on: Integrated Risk Assessment Framework for Development of Best Practices in Ship Recycling. Dr. Anand Hiremath was awarded Doctorate Degree in the year 2016 for his research work on Ship Recycling by the IIT Bombay, India. In addition, he has a diploma in Industrial Safety and is qualified Lead Auditor for ISO 45001:2018, ISO 9001:2015 & ISO 14001:2015. He is also a DNV certified Hazmat Expert. He has also completed International General Certification course from NEBOSH UK.

Dr. Anand Hiremath has been with GMS for the last seven years as a Green Recycling Specialist, based in Bhavnagar, India, where he works closely with select yards ensuring compliance with the guidelines of the Hong Kong Convention (HKC) for Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships. He is the Chief Sustainable Officer at GMS. Dr. Anand is in-charge of project execution at ground level. Dr. Hiremath is also the Course Director for the Ship Recycling course offered by the Lloyd’s Maritime Academy, London.

Dr. Anand has participated in several projects on Green Ship Recycling, including the European Union FP6 funded project (DIVEST) and has conducted a study on Preventive Technological Interventions for Improving Environmental Attributes of Ship Recycling (Green Alang Initiative) funded by the Gujarat Maritime Board, Government of Gujarat, India. Dr. Hiremath’s research has been published in scientific journals in USA, Europe, UK and India. Dr. Hiremath published the first practical handbook on ship recycling, entitled: “The Green Handbook: A Practical Checklist to Monitor the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships”.

Under his supervision, more than 70 IHM surveys were conducted & 100 end-of-life vessels (of different types) were successfully recycled. 

GMS, Inc., was established in the year 1992 in the USA. GMS could successfully negotiate more than 4000 units for recycling since its inception. Today it is the world's LARGEST purchaser of ships and leads the ship recycling industry. GMS is a pioneer in several areas, particularly green entrepreneurship, as the following achievements demonstrate:

- Became ISO certified (BV).

-  Developed and employed novel and best techniques in the ship recycling industry.

-  Became the footprint of the industry at various international forums/conferences and work with recycling yards, ship owners, brokers, legislators, regulators, and bureaucrats to establish and upgrade global ship recycling standards and owing to its contribution, GMS was invited by the IMO to assist in the development of the Convention for Safe and Responsible recycling and to deliberate on the capital markets regarding the importance of residual (scrap) values.

-  GMS, with its highly qualified in-house supervisory team of experts, was the FIRST and ONLY Buyer in the world to have recognized the need for a responsible (green) ship recycling program in the three major recycling markets, which includes contractual and procedural arrangements to ensure that end-of-life ships are recycled in a responsible manner. This addresses issues of safety, occupational health, welfare, and environmental protection.

-  Has a strong commitment to ship recycling with huge investments in infrastructure and human resources.

-  GMS developed Sustainable Ship and Offshore Recycling Program (SSORP) in 2016 to supervise the process of ship recycling and to guide shipowners, yards, and workers. SSORP is an extra layer of audit and monitoring process for each step of ship recycling. It is vetted, verified and validated by Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance (LRAQ). In the last 7 years, 70+ IHMs have been conducted and 100+ vessels have been recycled under the GMS SSOR program, which complies with the guidelines of the Hong Kong Convention for Safe and Responsible Recycling of Ships.

-  Conducted 300+ free safety awareness trainings and directly trained 5000+ ship recycling yard workers cumulatively in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan in last 4 years.

-  GMS is the only Buyer in the world to publish the industry’s first two books on ship recycling. Namely, “The Recycling of Ships” by Dr. Nikos Mikelis and “The Green Handbook: A Practical Checklist to Monitor the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships” by Dr. Anand Hiremath - which highlights the breadth of procedures under GMS SSORP that assist both Ship and Yard Owners to recycle a vessel in an environmentally friendly manner. Published the second version of “The Recycling of Ships” by Dr. Nikos Mikelis to educate the global community on the updated regulatory requirements of ship recycling, the current state of recycling yards in the Indian subcontinent, the impact of the Hong Kong Convention and to “bridge the gap of public misunderstanding” and “correct misapprehensions” about this very niche industry.

-  Publish the industry’s first and most read weekly Newsletter 20 years ago with 1000+ issues in print.

-  Expand the business globally with 13 offices in most major shipping markets.

-  Launch the industry’s first and only mobile application app for recycling.

-  Deliver about 30% of the annual recycling volumes

-  Maintain a specialized database of all recycling facilities worldwide in order to match the ship owner’s CSR/ESG requirements with the most suitable yard.

-  Create a core team of internationally recognized leading experts to guide sellers on regulatory aspects of ship recycling, ascertain Residual Values, audit and monitor sustainable ship recycling processes.

-  Create END TO END ship recycling solutions.

Importance of Indian Ship Recycling Industry, supporting Circular Economy of the Country?

Ship recycling is currently contributing to GDP is $1.3 Billion expected to increase $2.2 billion. 

More than 8500 ships are recycled in Alang since from its inception (from 1982) recovering more than 67 million tons of Steel. 9000 Eiffel towers can be built with that much of steel. Nearly 30% of total end-of-life ships generated every year are recycled in India. Total 153 registered recycling yards along the 10km coastal stretch at Alang, Gujarat. Direct employment to 15000+ workers and indirect employment over 5 lakhs. Recycling one ton of steel saves 1.1 ton of virgin iron ore mining. In addition, one ton of recycled steel saves 642 Kwh of energy, 1.8 barrels of oil, 10.9 million British thermal units (BTU's) of energy, and 4 cubic yards of landfill space.

In last 40 years, over 142,000+ tons of wood recovered from recycling of ships in Alang is reused directly. The best example of circular economy. Nearly 5% of machineries generated are reused and refurbished. Forest cover equivalent to 1258 football fields is saved by reusing wood recovered from recycling ships in last 40 years. In other words, 4293+ tons of CO2 is captured from the atmosphere by reusing wood recovered during ship recycling.

List of recyclable and reusable materials typically recovered from the obsolete vessels under study

Recovered items

Furniture and fixtures


Wardrobes/ cupboards, Chairs with and without cushion, tables, cots, mirrors & mirrors cabinets, stools, tables, benches, boxes, doors

Wood and Plywood

Kitchen and Mess units

Dishes, Dish washers, electric heater, refrigerator, washing machines, deep refrigerators, water coolers, Dry provision stores

Bathroom Fixtures

Urinals, bathtubs, wash basins, commodes, plastic buckets

On-board machinery

Electrical and Mechanical Appliances

Transformers, heat exchangers, condensers, generators, alternators, Compressors, Boilers, Oil Water Purifiers, AC Cooling units, marine engines, Cloth Driers, Water Pumps, Cranes, Winches, Pipes, Welding Machines, Batteries, Gas Cutters, Fans, Shaft Bearings, Lighting equipment, sports and gym equipment, Propeller

Garage and Stores

Bolts, nuts, screws, ship logs, polypropylene ropes, steel wire ropes, net, tarpoline, brushes, paint cleaning scrapper, spare gaskets, tools like hammer and chisel, lathe machines, pipes, Oil spill mitigation units, Chemicals and paints

Miscellaneous items

Office Equipment

Computers, Printers and scanners, fax machines, telex machines, wall clock, binoculars, record players, vacuum cleaners, Calculators, projectors, Office stationery

Lifesaving Equipment

Life buoys, lifeboats, life jackets, life raft, mooring boats, Foam tanks, fire extinguishers, Boiler suits, Helmet, Cables, Masks, Safety harness belts

Signalling Devices

Intercom & telephones, GPS systems, Periscopes, loudspeakers, megaphones, foghorn, Thermometers, barometers, marine compass


On an average, 0.5 to 1% of LDT of ship is non-ferrous (including stainless steel, copper, bronze, nickel, bronze etc). Considering 2800 vessels recycled in last 10 years in Alang, assuming 10k LDT per vessel, total of 28 million tons LDT is recycled, out of which 0.5% is non-ferrous (considering lower value), it accounts to recovery and reuse of nearly 140,000 tons of non-ferrous materials.

Considering just one non-ferrous material say Copper, the economic and environmental benefits of recycling copper are given below and illustrate the sustainable nature of copper:

During mining and refining (purification) of copper, dust and waste gases such as sulfur dioxide are produced which may have a harmful effect on the environment. Although these harmful effects are minimised by copper producers (sulphur dioxide is captured and used to make sulphuric acid), with recycling there are little, if any, harmful gases emitted.

Landfill Costs:

Copper and copper alloy objects which are not recycled might otherwise be dumped in holes in the ground - this is called landfill. These holes are rapidly being filled up and, as they become scarcer, landfill becomes a very expensive option for waste disposal (of any material).

Energy Saving:

In order to extract copper from copper ore the energy required is approximately 100GJ/ tonne. Recycling copper uses much less energy, about 10GJ/ tonne, that's only 10% of the energy needed for extraction. This energy saving leads to the conservation of valuable reserves of oil, gas or coal and reduces the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere.

Conservation of Copper Ore:

To date only about 12% of known copper resources have been mined. However, copper ore is a finite resource, and it makes sense to conserve ore by recycling.

It is cheaper to recycle old copper than to mine and extract new copper. Recycled copper is worth up to 90% of the cost of the original copper. Recycling helps to keep the cost of copper products down.

To quantify approximately 0.7 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent GHG emissions have been saved by recycling 100 vessels; in other words, the power saved by recycling 100 ships is equivalent to New York’s 40 days consumption and this process thereby directs towards a circular economy.

It’s clear from above that ship recycling industry is a notable example of Circular Economy as it conserves the metal resources on the earth by recycling and reusing steel, copper, brass, and aluminum recovered from ships. It generates employment opportunities for skilled workers and supports the development of communities.

Your take on Modern Health, Safety & Environment (HSE) Practices in Ship Recycling Industry?

HSE is paramount when it comes to ship recycling as its labor-intensive work. There is no one solution for safe practices. Of course, safety precautions are going digital day-by-day. Camera installed at every corner to ensure implementation of safe work practices. QR codes for quick access to worker information including health records. “Continual Improvement” is the key.

If you look at hierarchy of risk management, first is ELIMINATION of all unsafe work conditions, second, SUBSTITUTION by machines wherever work activity becomes dangerous to perform, third, ISOLATION, hazardous waste from workers by safe hazardous waste removal practices, fourth, engineering controls (safeguards to winches, cranes) and fifth, administrative controls (sign boards, safety slogans and last control measure is “PPE”. Unfortunately, most of the focus is on PPE which is last step in safety not the first. We also need to work on “behavior-based safety and in-depth ship-specific risk assessments to ensure zero fatal accidents.

Tell us about vision of GMS Inc. towards Sustainable Ship Recycling?

“GMS’s vision is to ensure safe and environmentally friendly recycling across all South Asian recycling destinations” GMS continues to lead the ship recycling industry with innovative solutions and pushing the "sustainability" agenda for safer recycling practices. The GMS Sustainability Ship and Offshore Recycling Program (GMS SSORP) is providing one-stop, end-to-end solutions, comprised of tasks such as preparing the Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM) report, guiding yards to develop a Ship Recycling Plan (SRP), analyzing the feasibility of the Ship Recycling Facility Plan (SRFP), monitoring and reporting the recycling process, and providing a vessel recycling completion report as per the guidelines of the Hong Kong Convention (HKC).

SSORP published Gas Free for Hot Work Guidelines for tankers bound for recycling, which far surpass the former standards and ensure extensive tanker cleaning procedures to mitigate accident risk and protect the environment from oil pollution.

-  SSORP involved academic research in the ship recycling industry through the GMS-IIT Gandhinagar R&D program to develop organic solvent to remove paint from ship blocks.

-  The program uses the advanced techniques of data collection and analysis (281 Data Points).

As of now, over 100 vessels have been recycled under SSORP without any fatalities or major injuries. The hazardous wastes recovered from these ships have been disposed of properly, and records are kept with evidence. The program uses the advanced techniques of data collection (281 data points), analysis, and periodic reporting, and the team provides technical consultation to yards to develop infrastructures such as the impermeable floor, temporary storage of hazardous wastes, waste oil management, and stormwater management. 

-  Two-day training program for 60 safety officers and supervisors of Chittagong ship recycling yards on "Work at Height" and "Confined Space Entry" in association with IACS Class Bureau Veritas.

-  In last two years, under SSORP, started PAID internship for college students to study policies in ship recycling, management of hazardous wastes and to develop innovative technologies for safe and sustainable recycling.

-  Conducted 300+ free safety awareness trainings and directly trained 5000+ ship recycling yard workers cumulatively in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan in last 4 years.

- We invest in resources to make ship recycling sustainable by incorporating several measures.

GMS supports the activities to protect the marine environment in associations with the North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA).

As a world’s leading buyer of ships and offshore vessels for recycling, Company’s commitment to the Global Ship Owners?

We ensure that associates, contractors, and our employees working for us are aware of their Environmental, Social, and Governance responsibilities. Our worldwide offices comply with local legislation and regulations in executing all business functions. We only associate with the contractors who believe and contribute to sustainable development.

Our purpose is to excel in managing ship recycling risks and providing sustainable solutions to all stakeholders. With more than 30 years of experience and more than 4000 transactions, we ensure that Ship-owners and Capital providers can proactively manage Residual Values for their aging vessels. With an in-house team of experts in trading, finance, legal, operations, technical, and worldwide presence, GMS provides one stop end-to-end solution to Owners of vintage assets.

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