Marine Recyclers Find Practical Use for Old Fibreglass Hulls

Sandy Cove Marine Recyclers, Honey Harbour, ON, is seeking to raise awareness of its greener method of boat disposal.

Where typically an old boat ends up buried in a landfill, Sandy Cove Marine Recyclers grinds the boat's fibreglass hull down, after it has been stripped. The remaining fibreglass fragments are then used as insulation or they are grinded down fine enough to be used in a concrete mixture for construction applications.

According to Don Ford, president of Sandy Cove Marine Recyclers, a mixture of cement and fibreglass will produce concrete that has improved flexibility while maintaining strength. The other product consists of the shredded fibreglass chips, which Ford says is suitable for placing below concrete, on top of the gravel, rather than using Styrofoam SM Brand board. Ford says the fibreglass chips are easier to level on gravel, provide substantial insulation and better cushion concrete to prevent cracking.

The company is currently in the research stage of confirming the benefits of the concrete/fibreglass mixture. Although Ford has 10 years of experience in the construction industry, he realizes he requires proven testing on the product before his company can start working with local townships to facilitate the alternative to boat disposal.

“I'm working with Ryerson University,” said Ford. “They have a program for training concrete engineers and a test lab that can test my mixture.  I took my research to them and showed them what I've been doing. They agreed to test for me, but they'd like to see a finer grind of fibreglass. So I'm going to run fibreglass from one of my boats through a screener and sift out more of the impurities.”

Ford also has a couple of pure fibreglass tanks that were formerly used for water softening that will provide the university so they'll have a completely pure test sample to experiment with. Ford hopes the results will be completed by spring so he can approach the National Research Council (NRC), a research and development organization for the Government of Canada, and show them more proof on paper with the goal of obtaining monetary support. If that's successful, Sandy Cove Marine Recyclers plans to approach several local area townships to see if a subsidized program for boat disposal can be set up.

“We're planning to approach Seguin Township, Georgian Bay Township, and Tay Township with a program to clean up the environment,” said Ford “The program would ideally be subsidized, where people would only need to pay half of the normal disposal fee if done within a set period of time.”

Sandy Cove Marine Recyclers' program is already garnering attention, receiving the Georgian Bay Chamber of Commerce's Business of the Year award. The company also received the Safeguarding the Environment Award at this year's Canadian Safe Boating Awards at the Sheraton Center in Toronto, ON in January.

“So far we've grounded up over a hundred boats,” said Ford. “I have more than 50 sitting in my yard. Last fall, of the marinas that called me, I probably have over 100 boats I could pick up right away.”

Sandy Cove Marine Recyclers initially opened two and half years ago, and is co-owned and operated by Ted Dallimore of Sandy Cove Marine and Don Ford. The company is working in partnership with Nad-Core, an environmental shredding company based in Midhurst, ON that operates within a 350-kilometre radius of Barrie, ON. Nad-Core has been using its high- and slow-speed shredders to break up fibreglass boats for Sandy Cove Marine Recyclers.

The company is currently using a pair of flatbed tow trucks to transport boats for shredding. The trucks, on average, can take boats up to 25 feet. According to Ford, the cost of disposing of a boat 18 to 22 feet would be approximately  $300, unless there are salvageable items onboard that would be subtracted from the disposal fee.