Plastic boats – how should we dispose of old boats when they reach the end of their lives?

Steve Franklin is on a mission. He's made it his business to deal with the increasing numbers of boats in the UK reaching the end of their useful lives, too many of which end up abandoned in marinas or cluttering up creeks around the country. It's a growing problem which the UK's boating industry – unlike most other European countries – seems to be reluctant to deal with. And it's driving this self-appointed Undertaker of the Boating World a little bit nuts.

"It's about blasted time people started listening to us," he says, when I speak to him on the phone to arrange an interview. "We need people everywhere to look for more effective solutions, because the problem isn't getting any better."

And certainly the figures make uncomfortable reading. According to a recent study, there are 6 million boats in the EU, about 95% of which are made of GRP. Every year, around 1-2% (ie 60,000-120,000) of these boats reach the end of their useful life. Of these, only 2,000 are recycled, while another 6,000-9,000 are abandoned in a variety of unsightly ways. The rest are presumably being kept by reluctant owners at their own expense.

"No-one wants to accept liability for end of life," says Steve. "Boat insurance companies say they don't break boats up; they give them back to the owners who have to deal with it. Marinas won't pay to have abandoned boats removed; they just put them on ebay and sell them for £1 to get rid of them. Anyone can buy a boat for £1, strip it of all the good bits and then dump it somewhere. Who's then liable? Not the marina, because they sold the boat for £1. The owner can't be traced, because we don't have an owner registration scheme. So it's the local council that has to deal with it, and local taxpayers have to pay the bill. It's so unethical."

by Steve Frankland,, via

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Saturday, 13 July 2024

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