Exploring shipping’s transition to a circular industry

Year 2021 (June)
Author(s) 2BHonest
Commissioner Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI)

Findings of an inquiry to understand how circular economy principles can be applied to shipping

Exploring shipping’s transition to a circular industry presents the findings of an inquiry commissioned by the Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) and authored by circularity and sustainability consultancy 2BHonest aiming to demystify the concept of the circular economy, which has a key role to play in the shipping industry.

This report builds on previous research around the role of circularity in shipping, including SSI’s 2013 Closed Loop Materials Management work, the Circular Shipping Initiative, and other examples both within maritime and in comparable industries such as automotive and aviation.

Prepared based on academic knowledge, industry insights, and a range of stakeholder interviews, this report works to explore how circular economy principles can be applied to shipping, raising awareness and understanding among shipping stakeholders through evidence-based research, and setting out the opportunities and barriers across the vessel lifecycle for the transition to a circular shipping industry.

By focusing on steel as the primary component of a vessel, this report is anchored in today’s take-make-waste-recycle model, providing an opportunity to discuss the future of the industry and key levers for change moving forward.

Part I outlines the fundamental concepts of the ship lifecycle and the circular economy, proposing a 4R hierarchy that can be applied to shipping. Part II dives into the current state of ship recycling, outlining trends, barriers and opportunities arising in the coming decades. Part III works to connect the dots, taking into account lessons learnt from other sectors undergoing a circularity transition. Part IV discusses the role of different stakeholder groups in enabling and promoting a circular shipping industry. Finally, the conclusion outlines a set of suggested next steps for the industry.

About the Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI)

The Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) is a multi-stakeholder collective of ambitious and like-minded leaders, driving change through cross-sectoral collaboration to contribute to – and thrive in – a more sustainable maritime industry. Spanning the entire shipping value chain, SSI members are shipowners and charterers; shipyards, marine product, equipment and service providers; banks, ship finance and insurance providers; classification societies; and sustainability non-profits



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Maritime industryShip design