Ship breaking is recycling on a huge scale. It's the act of methodically stripping and slicing a huge ship bit by bit until there's nothing left. The process itself can be hazardous both to the workers and the environment. As a result, most ship breaking has moved away from developed countries towards those with less strict environmental laws or protection for workers.
As it happens there's a ship breaking operation in Ontario only a few hours from Toronto. The city of Port Colborne is home to International Marine Salvage — the only ISO-Certified ship breaking facility in the world. At this operation, everything removed is reused. Whether it's the steel, winches, chains or old on-board equipment, this company finds a new home for it.
I visited the site twice in 2005.
The first group of photos are from my initial visit. A ship's hull was beached, apparently sliced in half. Huge chunks of metal — recently cut from the hull — sat on the beach, awaiting further breakdown.
The second group are from a later visit, where a 185 metre (600 foot) long hull was at the shore undergoing one of the first stages of breaking: asbestos removal. Initial cuts had been made to the superficial structure and interior equipment had begun to be removed.