RI Program Turns Old Boats into Cement

The BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety & Clean Water is the latest organization to lend support to the Rhode Island Fiberglass Vessel Recycling (RIFVR) Pilot Project. The pilot, launched by RIMTA and R.I. Sea Grant, is exploring solutions for the sustainable disposal of fiberglass boats by dismantling and re-processing fiberglass hulls into cement as an alternative to landfill.

Although the RIFVR Pilot is a local Rhode Island project, the findings of this pilot could have national applications. While Rhode Island’s limited landfill area was an impetus to establishing the project in the Ocean State, other states struggle with finding solutions to the same issue.

Since 1988, the BoatU.S. Foundation has awarded over $1.1 million in grants to fund projects that promote responsible boating on a local level.

About the RIFVR Pilot Program

The 2018 Rhode Island Fiberglass Vessel Recycling (RIFVR) Pilot Project has been designed to answer critical questions surrounding the lifecycle of recreational boats and sustainable reuse of fiberglass waste. RIMTA is partnering with Rhode Island Sea Grant, Rhode Island Resource Recovery—the state’s sole landfill operator—and Geocycle—a waste-resource management subsidiary of the LafargeHolcim Cement Group— to demonstrate how fiberglass waste may be a valuable component of the industrial cement production process. The RIFVR Pilot has built upon fiberglass recycling methods recently pioneered in Germany where Geocycle and LafargeHolcim assisted the wind energy sector in developing a sustainable pathway to “co-process” fiberglass waste for its chemical and thermal values in cement production.

End-of-life vessels and the thousands of products constructed with composite and polymer-based materials such as fiberglass offer an opportunity to create new infrastructure for the collection and recycling of high-value waste streams. Initial experiences during the RIFVR Pilot have indicated that in addition to boats, a wide range of similar high-value wastes could be separated from standard solid-waste disposal and included in a broad blend of material that can achieve the thermal and chemical goals of co-processing. This work will help to increase the efficiency of cement co-processing in the United States while encouraging sustainable solid waste management, circular economics and product lifecycle design.