The challenges presented to our industry by End-of-Use Boats, has been a featured discussion at METSTRADE for the last four years. Conferences and forums held during METS week in 2015 / 16 and 17 brought together senior figures from national boating associations, marina /harbour authorities and various stakeholders. This included a number of companies and individuals who have been active in providing solutions in terms of boat dismantling and recycling facilities.
Therefore, it’s fair to say that METSTRADE together with its show partner ICOMIA have been instrumental in raising the awareness and finding solutions. Along with other organisations such as EBI (European Boating Industry), HISWA (Holland Marine Industry) and EBA (European Boating Association) we have been actively involved in pursuing a more collaborative approach; one which effectively combines all of the knowledge and expertise currently available into a blueprint for the future.
Boating Community coming together in Brussels
In May this year, Brussels based European Boating Industry (EBI) contacted DG MARE regarding the possibility of setting up a stakeholders’ platform to focus on end-of-use boats and boat dismantling. (DG MARE is the European Commission Department responsible for developing and carrying out the EU policies on maritime affairs and fisheries.) The idea is to gather all the players in the sector, materials providers, boat builders, users, decision-makers, etc, in order to discuss the role of the marine industry in the future of the Circular Economy.
DG MARE positively responded to the request and it has been suggested that the stakeholder’s platform will be co-chaired by DG MARE and EBI. A preliminary meeting will be organised in September in the European commission building, between DG MARE, EBI, the European Boating Association (EBA) and ICOMIA, to agree on the participants and terms of reference.
All input from interested parties is welcome, so please let us know if you want to be put in touch with the stakeholder’s platform.
Revisiting the facts
During the course of previous meetings, the term ‘End-of-Use’ has become adopted, as opposed to ‘End-of-Life’ boats. This is simply because one of the major barriers to progress is the virtually indestructible nature of GRP (Fibreglass.) This means that the hull, being the largest component part of the boat, has not actually reached end-of-life in the true sense, but has been consigned to end-of-use for various other reasons. These may include mechanical or rigging failure, old age / illness of owners, or simply a loss of interest in keeping the yacht maintained.
Various articles covering the subject have been written over the last few years by ourselves and others. In fact, an American yachting journalist Martha Blanchfield has been following our blog, and has written an article for the recent June edition of Points East boating magazine in the US. She has used some of our previously published information, supplemented with her own additional detailed research material.Martha borrowed the words from the well-known Neil Sedaka hit song, and very appropriately entitled her piece: ‘Breaking up is hard to do! ‘
The article points out that the U.S. and Canada represent half the world’s boating market, yet the discussion on how to deal with end-of-use boats is hardly a hot top topic amongst North American sailors. Martha says, “we are behind Europe in addressing a growing stock pile of forgotten fiberglass, and putting it into land fill simply extends its life cycle by 400 years, leaving it for future generations to deal with! “