Until the late 20th century, ship breaking took place in port cities of industrialized countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States. Today, most ship breaking yards are in Alang in India, Chittagong in Bangladesh, Aliaga in Turkey and Gadani near Karachi in Pakistan, due to lower labor costs and less stringent environmental regulations dealing with the disposal of lead paint and other toxic substances. Some "breakers" still remain in the United States which work primarily on government surplus vessels. There are also some in Dubai, UAE for tankers. China used to be an important player in the 1990s. It is now trying to reposition itself in more environmentally friendly industries.
Ship breaking can occur in a wide variety of facilities. They range from advanced sites like Van Heyghen Recycling and other "Green Ship Recycling" approved facilities in industrialized ports, to low-tech facilities such as at Alang, India. At present the only truly environmentally friendly option is the use of "Green Ship Recycling" at approved facilities. These facilities can recover up to 99% of the ship's materials and correctly process hazardous waste such as asbestos.
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