The problem of end-of-life boats is happening whether we like it or not. If we choose not to acknowledge them it will still be a problem all the same.
It’s not just the boats that are coming to the end of their natural life. There is also the boats that are owned by people who are coming to the end of their life.
Many older people may not have the means to sell their boat. If they might pass away or simply become unable to use the boat. The boat may then technically become abandoned. As family members may try to wash their hands of the boat they have been left.
Marinas and boatyards will then have to deal with the boat as if it was their own which will cost them thousands in the long run.
If these boats are then left on beaches, in harbours or in rivers it will become the local authorities responsibility. Taxpayers money or council taxpayers money would have to be used to clean up other people’s mess.
At Boatbreakers we already have a system in place to collect and dispose of boats from across the country. Currently, we get them back to our scrapyard and dispose of them. We can keep this system ticking over but eventually the number of boats will grow much larger. We then may get to a stage where we simply can’t scrap them quick enough. And if there is no owner around to pay for the process who will foot the bill?
We would like bigger organisations such as the RYA, universities or other marine institutions to try and help come up with a solution for end of life fibreglass. There needs to be a market created for the waste GRP. Then end-of-life boats can be disposed of for a far reduced cost.
If the cost of disposing a boat was lowered we believe more boat owners will do the responsible thing and scrap their boat. This will mean marinas, boatyards and moorings will become free for boats that are still in use.
As well as the issue of what happens to the end of life fibreglass there’s also the question of who’s paying for the boat to be scrapped.
We believe the right idea would be for a type of insurance. A fee could be paid each year on every boat which is kept aside in case that boat ever needs to be scrapped.
A boat may have multiple owners throughout her life and this idea would mean all of them would contribute towards the disposal process. Not just the unlucky last owner.
The worst-case scenario in the current situation would be a ban on fibreglass going to landfill. We would then be in a situation where there was no viable solution for the material. Baring in mind that the vast majority of modern boats across the world are made from GRP this is a scary thought.