Impact of ship-Breaking activities on the coastal environment of Bangladesh and a management system for its sustainability

Md Shakhaoat Hossain, Abu Naieum Muhammad Fakhruddin, Muhammed Alamgir Zaman Chowdhury, Siew Hua Gan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Ship breaking or recycling in Bangladesh has been a catalyst for the economy by supporting the steel, shipbuilding, furniture, building construction, machinery and electrical industries since the 1980s. Although it has generated huge employment and provided 80-90% of the total steel consumption in the country, it has faced a host of challenges due to a number of negative environmental and social impacts that hinder the sustainable development of this blooming sector. The objective of this paper is to focus on how ship-breaking activities in Bangladesh affect the adjacent environment and the health and safety of workers, as well as management's approach to the sustainability of the industry, by conducting a review of the available scientific literature. We found that grave environmental pollution, such as physiochemical properties, heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyl compounds (PCBs), organotins, oil and grease pollution, asbestos and other atmospheric pollutants, and its impact on marine ecosystems, biodiversity, forestry, fisheries and human health are the main obstacles for the development of a sustainable ship-breaking industry. In addition, labour safety and occupational health problems, social unrest and conflicts have resulted from the development of the ship-breaking industry in Bangladesh. Inappropriate management practices and inadequate plans regarding ship-breaking activities and processes are the main reasons for these challenges. Effective management measures to mitigate the adverse environmental impact of the ship-breaking industry and to improve the health and safety of workers have now become an urgent requirement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-94
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Bangladesh
  • Environmental impact
  • Management system
  • Occupational health
  • Pollution
  • Safety
  • Ship breaking

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