Building yachts with end-of-life in mind
DUESSELDORF, Germany – Adjiedj Bakas recommends you get into the boat disposal business. The Dutch economic trend watcher (photo) sees the end-of-life sector for boats as possibly a source of the next generation of billionaires. At a conference on the sidelines of the 2014 Düsseldorf Boat Show, Bakas spelled out major upsides to boat recycling.
The European Union has end-of-life laws for cars, refrigerators and batteries. Bakas recommends boat makers and designers follow suit. “Recycling does not always have to be in your own industry,” he said. “You can recycle parts of a boat in another industry.” That’s how old car tires become highway sound insulation material. Or how plastic bottles are turned into synthetic car fuel. This is my advice to the boat sector: Talk to other industries. Get inspired! Get ideas! Try to dismantle boats in another industry. This is interesting especially the prices of raw materials are going up.”
Europe has one of the world’s largest concentrations of recreational craft, some 6 million in the 28 EU nations alone. Polyester boats that came onto the market in the 1960s and 1970s have become a headache. When those boats begin aging, they are abandoned or dismantled by someone without the skills to safely dispose of potentially hazardous materials onboard.
The EU’s end-of-life rules for cars require that 85% of the weight of new automobiles be recycled. As of 2015, that rises to 95%. To meet these targets, the car industry uses common materials to a much greater degree than the yacht manufacturing sector.
France is a market leader in handling end-of-life boats. Its non-profit APER (Association pour la Plaisance Eco-Responsable) works with 50 waste collection stations where boaters can take their aging yachts. Since 2009, 900 have been disposed there safely _ not a lot given that France has 600,000 boasts ready for scrapping. The final owner pays for the recycling _ €1,200 ($1,641) on average. EU-wide, end-of-life legislation would spread those costs. APER promotes commercial disposal points and studies recyclable materials, notably fiberglass.
The Düsseldorf conference drew attention to the BoatDIGEST (Boat Dismantling Insight by Generating Environmental and Safety Training) initiative. It takes a Europe-wide look at improving boat dismantling practices and at how to upgrade safe-scrapping skills. Gerwin Klok of the Netherlands Yachtbuilding Industry says his lobby wants to be “directly involved in the BoatDIGEST project. End-of-life boat scrapping in the Netherlands is a very small scale industry.