Lifetime is running out for a large number of fibreglass boats produced about 50 years ago. Many shipyards where they have been produced do no longer exist and last users frequently do not have the budget to pay expensive disposal of their boats. After having been chopped and shredded the only further (but still expensive) use of the fibreglass seems to be as a waste component in concrete or asphalt.

Is there really no better use for it, where it even may be considered as a value? If not, we are running a high risk that many boats and other fibreglass products in future will end up in the sea as an additional waste load.

GE reports about some recycling of wind turbine blades, which may be true or just to reassure some critics. However, I fear that there will come a lot of none recycled fibreglass waste to nature.

As building riffs with waste fibreglass materials was suggested as an alternative I would like to point on this study which states in its conclusion: "Evidence of matrix and interphase contribution in environmental degradation is shown by crack density measurements, transverse strength degradation, and fiber surface morphology."

Even when it decomposes slowly and takes some hundred years to do, that doesn't make it better for the ambient.

  • Just a thought: Is a (de-oiled) pile of boats on the seabed, in a well considered location all bad? Artificial reefs have their merits I understand. Might be less environmentally damaging than the energy used to reprocess. – user3418765 May 8 '18 at 7:29
  • That proposal could also contribute as an answer to a previous question about "How do plastic bags and other waste end up in the ocean?" Even when fibreglass plastics do not rot fast, small parts of it can remove from the body of the boats and drift in the sea. Building riffs may be better using steal, as it is in cars, etc. – Salt May 8 '18 at 13:00
  • Fibreglass is pretty inert. I've not read anything on the effects of ultra long-term immersion in sea water, but bits don't spontaneously break off boats. If they became colonised, the encrustations, concretions and other growth layers would protect the fibreglass to a not inconsiderable extent. – user3418765 May 8 '18 at 13:29
  • Most boats are protected against osmosis from outside, but not from inside the boat. Osmosis will start very soon where water penetrates the material and creates growing bubbles that finally break up. Fishes and other animals will nibble and eat it. So it enters into the circle. And as it is inert indeed you will find it some day on your table. – Salt May 8 '18 at 13:47
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    This item was also discussed at other place in StackExchange: outdoors.stackexchange.com/questions/14206/… – Salt May 8 '18 at 14:09

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