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Recycling Plastic Watercraft

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Every time I get some big made of plastic I have a degree of guilt. Do people ever recycle plastic watercraft? Ought to be a selling point if a new boat were made of old boats. Anyway, I see lots of plastic on rocks in the rivers, so I know lots of material is being introduced, blood stream injected into the environment. Not sure if composites are more earth friendly, but they seem so (although resin can’t be anymore desirable - it’s clear at least). I’m also looking for more eco friendly fishing lures to assuage my tree hugging demons.
 
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Wood and canvas is the answer.
Jim
Would that hold up to river use?

I’m confused as to why we ever introduced single use plastic bags. I get paper and it serves me well for starting fires, bbq. But if someone came up with a lightweight canoe or other personal watercraft made from those insidious sacks, I’d buy one on principle alone.
 
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Where do old plastic canoes go when they die? Anyplace useful, just a landfill? The outfitters go through them like water. Some are sold, but they don’t live forever. Always wonder when I see a new spring fleet lined up at one of the liveries. Seems like the poly canoes could be made into new canoes or other useful stuff.
 
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Would that hold up to river use?

I’m confused as to why we ever introduced single use plastic bags. I get paper and it serves me well for starting fires, bbq. But if someone came up with a lightweight canoe or other personal watercraft made from those insidious sacks, I’d buy one on principle alone.
As far as w/c holding up to river use, it depends on the type of river. Class I or even class II, as long as the channels are easy to navigate, shouldn't be a problem. If I didn't think I could avoid hitting rocks I wouldn't take my w/c boats. I can live with scratches on the bottom, I just don't want to break any ribs or planks.
 
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Most of the plastics we use on a daily basis end up in a land fill, contrary to popular belief, most plastics are not reusable or recyclable.

The only practical way to reduce the waste is to simply not create and use the product in the first place, starting with the single use stuff where there are viable alternatives.

Composites are made to be tough, that also makes them tough to break down. I read an article about the wind turbine blades used to make "Green" power, the blades have a lifespan of so many hours and then they can't be used anymore .... it was saying that California alone has something like 10,000 blades set for landfill as they can't be recycled or repurposed.

I think our collective love affair with plastic needs some serious intervention and counselling.

Brian
 
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Cruiser, I know that some paving companies are trying to use stuff like recycled, chopped, fiberglass and other composite materials in their asphalt mix as a sort of aggregate to help bind it together, but as far as I know it's still in the experimental stage
 
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Cruiser, I know that some paving companies are trying to use stuff like recycled, chopped, fiberglass and other composite materials in their asphalt mix as a sort of aggregate to help bind it together, but as far as I know it's still in the experimental stage
I’ve heard of that, but keeping micro plastics from leaching into the environment is not well served by spreading them across the surface, open to elements.
 
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As far as w/c holding up to river use, it depends on the type of river. Class I or even class II, as long as the channels are easy to navigate, shouldn't be a problem. If I didn't think I could avoid hitting rocks I wouldn't take my w/c boats. I can live with scratches on the bottom, I just don't want to break any ribs or planks.
That is not the problem of a wooden canoe. It's the lack of repair skill of most of its paddlers. Such as you and I. Some are very well built for whitewater. There are a dwindling pool of canoeists that can field repair a w/c canoe on a trip with natural materials.. But they do exist. There are a fair number of Mainers who routinely paddle whitewater with w/c canoes. Of course with an open boat class 3 is the limit.
Chip and Lani and also Ray Rietze ( who I swear can build a new canoe in the field if necessary) use wood canvas canoes.

 
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I faced this problem last summer, when a vehicle burst into flames and two Royalex canoes stored nearby were melted. This adventure resulted in a yet-to-be-published article for my canoe club newsletter.

melted canoes resized.jpg

There are no good answers at this time. Because Royalex is a sandwich of different types of plastic, nobody can recycle it. I placed an ad in the "Free Stuff" section of Craigslist. Eventually someone came along who wanted to make canoe-shaped flower beds for his wife. So the canoes were reused, but the final disposal problem was passed on to someone else.

Royalex and its successors such as T-Formex are the most problematic because of the mixture of materials. It seems to me that the stuff could be used as fuel, or ground up to be added to paving materials. I researched and did not find that anyone is actually doing this.

Spurred on by the problem of used wind turbine blades, pilot programs are underway to use ground fiberglass as fuel, or as filler for masonry products. There are also efforts to separate the glass fibers from the resin matrix for reuse in other plastic products. Possibly Kevlar canoes could be processed in the same way.



Birch bark, of course, will eventually return to dust. Wood and canvas canoes are mostly biodegradable, but they have metal fasteners and possibly toxic chemicals in their paint.

Among modern materials, aluminum has well-established recycling processes. High density polyethylene can be reused to make other plastic products such as lawn furniture. Both of these materials have shortcomings as canoe materials.

Presumably we paddlers love nature, but here in the last days of the Petroleum Age we have a dilemma.
We cruise around in boats made from chemically rearranged oil, and consume fossil fuel traveling to distant rivers. Are we unintentionally killing the things we love? Perhaps violent storms caused by petroleum-generated climate change will make paddling more exciting? I feel guilty, but not enough to stop paddling.
 
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This painting is from the 50’s I believe but don’t know for sure and I didn’t note the artist so can’t check that, but it was in a gallery here in Rockland two summers ago. I wonder if he is having second thoughts.
D640FBFB-9888-4FB4-970D-82EE5C0F5C63.jpeg
Did they use wood and canvas to run rapids yes, would it be my first choice today probably not.
Jim
 
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My boat recycling effort. A nephew has the other half, not sure he has done anything with it. I have been asked why I didn’t use a w/c canoe - I would never do this to a w/c canoe.
 

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