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Finland demolishes rivals with ocean liner recycling project

While ship demolitions are a new area for Delete, the company is specialised in managing unusual demolition projects of all sizes.Delete

When a ship comes to the end of its life-cycle, most of its materials are still recyclable and worth millions of euros. A new Finnish consortium believes this could become a major business for the country’s maritime and recycling industry.

Currently most ocean liners are taken apart in Southern Asia, but at times in questionable working conditions. An upcoming EU directive aims to change this by requiring all ships sailing under European flags to undergo certified demolition. For the Finnish maritime industry this is a major opportunity, as it has significant experience in handling large ships in a way that is sustainable both for the environment and workers.

“We have strong shipbuilding expertise, shipyard capacity and circular economy know-how,” says Piia Moilanen, project manager at the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation (Tekes)*. “This forms a great base for the ship demolition industry.”

Tekes is funding a new ‘Ship Recycling’ project in cooperation with a consortium of Finnish companies to turn this expertise into an ocean liner demolition industry in the country. The first pilot demolition project is currently under discussion and is planned to begin in late 2017.

Good News from Finland talked with three companies in the consortium about their part in project.

Turku Repair Yard

Currently no EU country has demolition sites for ships over 100 metres long, but the Turku Repair Yard (TRY) in Southwest Finland is ready to change that. Its dry dock is 265 metres long and 70 metres wide making it an ideal location for large ships. On a typical year, the company handles the repair and maintenance of over 150 ships, from tankers to passenger ferries.

“The biggest ships we have repaired have been crude oil tankers,” recalls Oskari Kosonen, project manager at TRY. “Demolition is largely project management and that is our expertise. Also, we already have environmental certificates for ship repairs so we only need a few extra clearances to start demolitions.”

Turku Repair Yard is one of Northern Europe’s leading ship repair facilities. Image: Turku Repair Yard

A major focus area for TRY is to minimise its environmental impact and this is the approach the company wants to apply to ship demolition as well. If the first pilot project in 2017 goes well, the aim is to first have up to six demolition projects a year and grow the business from there.


Before a ship can be taken apart, it has to find its way to the drydock. This is where Finnish maritime logistics specialist Meriaura steps in. The company has handled demanding cargo projects in Europe for over 20 years and invested heavily in building an energy efficient fleet.

“We are the beginning and the end for the demolition process,” explains Jussi Mälkiä, managing director at Meriaura. “Our interest is in acquiring the ships to be demolished and getting them to the dry dock. Our partners will then remove any hazardous waste and take the ship apart while we take care of selling and transporting the steel waste.”

A single ship weighs thousands of tonnes, and up to 90 per cent of this is recyclable material, such as steel, and this kind of transport is Meriaura’s speciality.

The company has the capacity to carry up to three million tonnes of cargo annually.


Delete specialises in demanding demolition projects and environmental services. This is exactly the expertise the company, which employs 800 people in Finland and Sweden, hopes to bring to the Ship Recycling project.

“Most of the actual demolition work would be our responsibility,” says Janne Salonen, business manager of Heavy Demolition Services at Delete. “In particular we bring expertise in hazardous materials, but also in taking apart the insides and the hull of a ship.”

While ship demolitions are a new area for Delete, the company is specialised in managing unusual demolition projects of all sizes and welcomes the challenge of a ship’s narrow corridors and engine rooms.

Delete believes ship demolitions could become a significant part of its services and argues Finland has all the elements required to become a major player in this industry:

“Finland has environmentally friendly processes and ensures worker safety,” Salonen states. “Also, we have the consortium behind this and a large dry dock [suitable for big demolitions projects], which most European countries do not have.”

The pieces are therefore all in place for Finland, now it is time for the country to show they can be put together.

Almost 1 000 ocean liners are demolished globally every year and a single ship can be worth millions of euros in recyclable material. Image: Esko Pettay

*Part of Business Finland since 2018

By: Eeva Haaramo