Grieg Green offers a sustainable alternative for shipbreaking

In 2014, three out of four obsolete ships were demolished on the beaches of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, under inhumane and highly polluting conditions. Grieg Green helps ship owners break down their ships to the last nuts and bolts. Anette Berg, head of ABN AMRO’s Maritime Norway department, explains why ABN AMRO is financing and supporting this project.

As a co-founder of the Sustainable Shipping Initiative, ABN AMRO is a front runner in making this industry more sustainable. One of the main objectives of this joint venture between businesses and NGOs is to change current ship demolition practices. Financing Grieg Green, which buys obsolete ships and guarantees sustainable recycling, brings this goal within reach. Norwegian Anette Berg was involved in the financing procedure. She has been working in the shipping industry for nearly thirty years, as a CFO and currently as head of Maritime Norway at ABN AMRO.

What's the problem?

‘Businesses are paid more for their old ships if they have them demolished on the beaches of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. However, this method takes its toll on labourers and the environment. Lack of schooling, tools and safety measures renders the work extremely dangerous. While exact figures are not available, the Shipbreaking Platform claims that in 2014 at least 27 people were killed in work-related accidents in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The number of deaths accountable to illness caused by exposure to asbestos and toxic fumes is unknown. Hazardous waste is often left behind on the beaches, damaging the environment. This is unacceptable.’

What is Grieg Green's role?

‘This company is unique in that it advises customers on sustainable recycling of ships. Grieg Green advises throughout the entire process, from finding shipyards to conducting contract negotiations and processing the paperwork. Grieg Green also buys old ships to resell them to shipyards that have been preselected to meet the highest sustainability standards. Grieg Green offers a sustainable alternative in the predominantly polluting industry of ship breaking.’

How is ABN AMRO supporting this initiative?

‘We provide Grieg Green with working capital, which Grieg Green then uses to buy more ships. The impact is immediate. Tapping our broad network in the marine and offshore sector, we introduce the company to our clients, who we frequently contact about this issue. We are convinced that change is essential and are therefore more than willing to support this company. We provide financing, as well as our knowledge and network.’

Is there any hope for change?

‘A growing number of ship owners agree that the beaching method is unacceptable. Some 25 per cent of obsolete ships – measured in gross tonnes – are processed in a more sustainable manner at shipyards, although fewer than ten per cent of this group meet the latest safety and sustainability requirements. By financing Grieg Green, we hope to accelerate change in this industry. This won’t happen overnight, but there is a lot of potential. If we manage to depollute shipbreaking, the impact for people and the environment will be huge.’

Infographic Ship demolition

See the infographic of Grieg Green