Giving old parts a new lease of life

Recycling and reusing tips from The Green Blue

Old boat parts don't have to end up in landfill...

We’ve probably all seen an old dinghy used as a planter on a roundabout or even filled with ice to keep the beer chilled at a wedding, or some smart lifestyle bags, chairs or wine coolers upcycled from old sails, but what other opportunities are there to give an old piece of sailing kit a new lease of life or recycle it rather than sending it to be buried in a hole in the ground?

The Green Blue, the environmental project of the RYA and British Marine, gets to see quite a few ideas when out and about on site visits to clubs, marinas and centres. Car park barriers made from old masts to an old winch used to open and close a skylight window are just a couple that spring to mind.

The usual items that can be and should be recycled are your lead acid batteries and old sails. Your marina should have a bin for batteries but if not, your local household waste centre will take them. For sails a number of companies will take them off your hands to upcycle – Reefer Sails, The Old Salt Loft, Wight Sails, and Sails and Canvas are just a few suggestions of who you could contact.

But there are also other valuable parts of your boat that you could recycle. Anodes are a good example. Sacrificial anodes are made from three active materials - zinc, aluminium and magnesium. In general they should be replaced on an annual basis or sooner if they have corroded to 60% or over half their original size, so what to do with them when they’re removed? More often than not they are simply thrown in the bin, but they do have recycling potential and could certainly contribute to a scrap metal haul.

A recent chance conversation with an anode producer raised the question of whether collection points could be put in marinas and clubs. It’s not a new idea for other items that would otherwise end up in landfill. An east coast marina already offers this facility for berth holders, from half tins of perfectly good antifoul (provided you check the date on these types of consumables) and old fenders that could still do someone a good turn. But you only have to do a rough estimate of the number of boats in any one marina changing several anodes once a year and that amounts to quite a pile.

If you have seen anywhere that does this already, or any other innovative ways of a boat part given a new lease of life, do get in touch. Remember your scrap could be someone else’s treasure!

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