The Ship Breaking Industry of Bangladesh: An Exploration of the Accountability of the Shipping Companies.
Abstract The paper explores the social and environmental information disclosure practices of global shipping companies with specific reference to how they account for the lifecycle of ships under their control. The paper sheds light on the working conditions, violations of human rights, and damage of ecology within the ship breaking yards of Chittagong, Bangladesh. We have collected the annual reports of ten large shipping companies’ for the year 2010 to understand their disclosure practices relating to how they account for their end-of-life ships. We have found that the extent of disclosures is relatively high for some of the organisations and the nature of the disclosures are predominantly positive, therefore reflecting a positive perspective of the organisation. The disclosures appear to have been made with the intension of securing/ or maintaining the legitimacy of the organisation, and/or to meet community expectations. However, we find no information from the shipping companies about where the ships actually go at the end of their lifecycle.
Keywords: Ship breaking industry, Bangladesh, Human rights, Ship recycling, Social and environmental disclosure.
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1. Introduction Ship breaking means breaking or recirculation of old ships for financial return (Neser et al. 2008). Of the approximate 45,000 ocean-going ships in the world about 700 are taken out of service every year. At the end of their sailing life, ships are sold so that the valuable steel about 95% of a ship’s mass, can be reused (Greenpeace, 2006). Old ships contain a wide range of toxic materials and oily waste and during the breaking of the ships these substances pollute the environment and have damaging health impacts on the workers and communities surrounding ship breaking yards (Greenpeace, 2003). Bangladesh was the most prolific ship recycling nation from 2004 with 220...