A boat's end of life is a topic that is being recurrently discussed in the industry in Europe.
Some countries, like Finland and France, have established operational schemes where both professionals and private owners have access to dedicated disposal services for their old boats.
At the EU level, the European Commission (EC) has conducted a number of studies on ship dismantling, primarily focusing on commercial ships. More recently, however, it took a closer look at the current state-of-play for smaller vessels (below 500GT), such as recreational craft.
Among the various policy options that were reviewed, the study proposed the idea of a recycling scheme, which drew our attention.
While it is customary in other sectors, such as batteries and packaging, to ask the manufacturers to contribute to a common fund to cover the costs of the product’s eventual disposal, translating this into the boating industry could be quite challenging.
According to the commission's study published in January 2012, boatbuilders could be asked to budget a certain amount from each new vessel sold to fund the dismantling costs.
For customers, this would mean an additional expense between €700-2,800 on their new purchase. Alternatively, owners could be required to pay an annual fee on their boats.
But a lot of details are not addressed in the study and the devil is in the detail. Who will fund the treatment of the so-called ‘historic waste’ - those boats built in the 50s, 60s and 70s which are the ones that today need to be disposed of and for which the boatbuilder has often long disappeared.
How do you know the dismantling of a boat was paid for when it is has likely changed owner, flag and even continent several times in its lifetime?
How do you ensure the recycling cost paid today by users and professionals will be the one in 30-40 years from now when the new boats will have to be disposed of?
The option of a recycling fund may sound interesting, but it will definitely need more analysis and attention to the details to be further considered.
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Source: Boating Business. 27 March 2011