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Improving practices in ship recycling

Roger Charles | Director, Environment Social Risk Management | Singapore

Having spent over 15 years working with oil and gas tankers as an engineer, Roger Charles, now a colleague at Standard Chartered, is working to improve practices in one of the world’s most hazardous industries: ship recycling.

Ship recycling employs an estimated 200,000 workers in Bangladesh,with around a million people directly or indirectly related to the industry. While it’s an important economic growth driver in emerging markets, we recognise that there are environmental and social challenges associated with the industry, including hazardous environments for workers. As a large international bank, we want to do what we can to help improve the industry.

“The easy thing would be for Standard Chartered to walk away, but we want to improve conditions, and we understand that, with industries such as this, it’s not going to happen overnight,” says Roger.

In return for our lending, the shipyards we work with have agreed to follow internationally recognised environmental, health and safe working practices. This includes providing safety training programmes, protective clothing, fair working hours and regular health checks.

So that we can monitor progress, an independent environmental consultancy audits clients annually, and Roger visits clients at least twice a year. His industry experience means he knows what safety and environmental aspects to look out for and, having once forged a career in building ships, he knows his way around one.

One of our clients, PHP, has just achieved compliance with the Hong Kong Convention, a set of internationally recognised ship recycling standards. It’s the first step for Bangladesh to become compliant and Roger sees this as a game changer. “I’m proud to be a part of this team of industry experts. The fact that Standard Chartered employs people like me shows it understands that environmental social management underpins good business.”