Meeting of the Stakeholders’ Working Group for End-of-Life Recreational Boats

On 3 November, EBI co-chaired together with DG MARE the second meeting of the Stakeholders’ Working Group for end-of-life recreational boats. This group, which is made up of a number of organisations from the boating sector, Member State authorities and the European Commission, plans to meet every few months until 2022 with the aim of establishing a roadmap that addresses the issue of dealing with end-of-life recreational boats. The stock of such boats is expected to increase in the coming years as the large amount of boats built in the last decades reach their end of life. Because these boats are built with composite material, which is difficult to recycle, policy impetus is needed in order to devise solutions, together with further research and development on the topic.

The meeting and Working Group was co-chaired by Andreea Strachinescu (Head of Unit, DG MARE A1 Maritime Innovation, Marine Knowledge and Investment) and Philip Easthill (Secretary-General, EBI). The Working Plan for the next meetings, prepared by EBI together with members, stakeholders and the European Commission was approved. EBI also presented existing data relating to the stock of boats for dismantling. According to the Commission, out of the 6 million boats in European waters, at least 60-80,000 reach their end of life every year, and only around 2000 are dismantled through a formal process. Data from the 2019 ICOMIA Statistics Book illustrates the existing boat park by category and size. It was noted that the largest category is outboard motorboats, and that most boats are in the 2.5m - 7.5m category. Given the practical experience of APER, it was concluded that between 30-40,000 boats should be expected for dismantling at EU level per year.

The meeting included the participation of three speakers. Firstly, Guillaume Arnauld de Lion gave a comprehensive presentation on APER, the French network of waste management companies dedicated to boat dismantling. There are currently 25 dismantling centres, which dismantle end-of-life boats at no cost to the boat owner (notwithstanding the cost of transporting the boat to the plant). Their dismantling activities are financed by an eco-tax paid by boat companies for every boat sold. He also pointed out that theoretical estimates of the stock of end-of-life boats overestimated the real stock for a number of reasons. Since September 2019 until the end of November 2020, APER has dismantled 1200 boats.

Next, Ben Drogt from the European Composites Industry Association (EuCIA) talked about composite plastics, pointing out that it can be recycled through its use in the production of cement, but stressed the need to make sure the necessary infrastructure is in place, as well as the need for all industries using composite materials to work together. Finally, Marylise Schmid, from WindEurope, offered the perspective of the wind turbines sector. Like boats, the stock of end-of-life wind turbine blades (also made of composite material) is expected to increase in the coming years.

The next meeting of the Working Group will take place in early 2021. It will focus on legal issues, the removal of boats from marinas, Extended Producer Responsibility schemes and the waste hierarchy.

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