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Landmark conference addresses end-of-life boats

A landmark conference has addressed the pressing issue of end-of-life recreational boats.

The conference was convened by the Belgian EU Presidency, in collaboration with the European Commission and European Boating Industry (EBI) and took place at Egmont Palace in Brussels.

The event brought together stakeholders from across sectors, including industry representatives, policymakers, and related sectors.

Among the attendees were representatives from the Belgian EU Presidency, European Commission, and EBI, and the European Composites Industry Association who joined together to underscore the urgency and necessity of cooperation in tackling the issue.

The political importance of the event was highlighted through opening speeches by Georges Gilkinet, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Mobility, Delilah Al Khudhairy, Director for Maritime Policy and Blue Economy at the European Commission and Robert Marx, President of EBI.

Collaborate

The conference highlighted the readiness of technology and the willingness of industry to collaborate in creating a robust European regulatory framework.

Participants emphasised the importance of continued joint efforts between the private and public sectors to drive meaningful change.

A variety of perspectives were presented, highlighting the topic’s complexity.

Research presented during the conference included a range of topics, such as financial and legal frameworks, technical advancements in recycling, and environmental impact assessment. It provided insight on the challenges related to the recycling and disposal of recreational crafts.

The conference also recognised the role of innovation in addressing environmental challenges in the boating industry.

And delegates recognised ongoing research and innovation in composite materials and life cycle analysis will play a vital role in supporting a circular approach to boatbuilding and reducing its environmental footprint.

Momentum

“As we move forward, it is imperative that the momentum generated by this conference translates into concrete action,” said Robert Marx, EBI president. “The implementation of the EU Roadmap must be the key next step after the approaching EU elections.

“Industry is ready, the technology is ready, and we now need to set up the regulatory framework to make it happen.”

A spokesperson from the European Composites Industry Association added: “The participants unanimously agreed that locating, collecting and dismantling the composite parts used to manufacture most of these boats, and then accessing composites recycling companies, are key challenges.”

And the spokesperson emphasised that composites are circular materials because reuse is possible, either in open loop or closed loop recycling.

“The composites’ recycling ecosystem is developing rapidly: recycling into cement is available now, and additional solutions are emerging.

“To increase the circularity of composites there is a need to improve systems for collection, sorting and transportation of waste, and develop markets for secondary materials.”

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