After five years of negotiations by 64 countries, the new regulations, known as the International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, requires all vessels to store on board a regularly updated inventory of the hazardous materials that the ship has carried throughout its lifetime, in addition to whatever materials the ship itself may be made of.
It also requires that workers at recycling centers in any country have proper protective gear and that they have emergency response plans in place.
Critics of the new treaty argue that it does not require adequate training of workers in Western safety practices before the ship can be taken apart and then recycled. In addition, enforcement of the treaty is left to local governments and not to an international regulatory agency — meaning that in countries with lax oversight (Pakistan, perhaps?), it’s quite likely that not much will change.
According to the trade journal Portworld:
The main ship recycling countries are Bangladesh, China, India, Pakistan and Turkey.
According to the [International Martitime Organization], the number of ships recycled each year is variable and ship recycling appears to be cyclical in nature.
The average age of recycled ships rose to around 32 years in the early 2000s, from around 26-27 years old in the 1990s.