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RIMTA Awarded Sizable Grant to Expand Vessel Recycling Program

NOAA’s Marine Debris Program gave Ocean State project more than $105,000 in funding.
Boat owners and builders have limited options for responsible disposal of end-of-life vessels. 

Boat owners and builders have limited options for responsible disposal of end-of-life vessels. 

Earlier this month, The Rhode Island Marine Trades Association announced it was entering Phase 2 of its pilot program to address end-of-life fiberglass boats.

The program got a massive boost this week from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program when the group awarded RIMTA with a grant of more than $105,000 to expand the program across all of New England and beyond.

The announcement was made by Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, as well as Reps. Jim Langevin and David Cicilline — all Rhode Island Democrats.

“I’m very proud that the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association and Rhode Island Sea Grant have pioneered an environmentally and financially sustainable model for recycling fiberglass boats, which long posed a vexing environmental challenge,” said Whitehouse in a statement.

“This award from NOAA’s Marine Debris Program is an investment in expanding the Rhode Island model for reducing the harmful, polluting marine debris in oceans and waterways across the country.”

The recycled materials were used as filler in concrete. 

The recycled materials were used as filler in concrete. 

Whitehouse is among the co-authors of the Save Our Seas Act, which reauthorized the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program in 2018.

“I’m proud that through the work of the RIMTA Foundation, the Ocean State is leading the way in developing sustainable methods for recycling materials that pose a threat to our marine environment and sea-life,” said Langevin. “Boating is a part of Rhode Island’s identity, but the remains of fiberglass boats are a source of contamination that must be addressed not only here but in other coastal states.”

RIMTA was thrilled with the news.

“As stewards of the environment and its sustainability, the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association and its member companies are proud to explore innovative ways to recycle end-of-life fiberglass boats and more,” said RIMTA CEO Wendy J. Mackie, who holds the same title for the Composites Alliance of Rhode Island. “NOAA’s backing on this endeavor comes at a critical time in the project’s progress. We are incredibly grateful for their trust and support.”

RIMTA’s Phase 1, which ended in 2019, was deemed a success, with more than 60 tons of vessels collected and recycled. The recycled materials were used as filler in the manufacturing of concrete and as an energy source, which has led to Phase 2 of the project.

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