Disposing of redundant or time-expired flares (pyrotechnics)


Marine flares might seem a strange one for CIWM to be writing an update on for its members and those interested in resources and waste but they do arise as a problem in facilities operated by our members.

Following the conclusion of the Department of Transport consultation, which closed on 15 March 2021 and sought comment relating to the development of future arrangements for the disposal of redundant marine pyrotechnics from the pleasure vessel sector, CIWM, who responded to this consultation with the assistance of Andrew Gausden (National Fire Chiefs Council Waste Fire Working Group), were asked to join a working group, where the UK Government sought to work with industry in achieving an industry-led, self-regulated network of local schemes designed to meet local needs across the UK.

HM Coastguard, from December 2022, will cease offering a voluntary public-facing flare disposal service. The Department of Transport, working with manufacturers of flares, the marine sector and CIWM have devised a replacement scheme.

Under the Explosives Regulations 2014, any person who discards or disposes of explosives or explosive-contaminated items must ensure that they are disposed of safely and that there are no risks to the health and safety of others or which risks damage to property. It is an offence not to do so.

So, what has the group devised and how will it impact those with flares to dispose of? Boat owners can take their old flares back, when they go to purchase new ones. If anyone finds old flares during a clear out the best route to dispose of these is to check the unwanted marine flares website, which has been updated to so contact details of those that can provide a service, either collecting the flares or arranging for them to be dropped off at a suitable site.

The idea behind CIWM working with the industry group was to ensure that facility operators and local authorities were aware of the changes, in case flares were brought to their site.  The guidance issued indicates the correct procedures to follow and the contact details to help the public with their questions.

As of October 2022, the Green Blue website was launched to update government guidance and ensure the marine sector, and others who need to be aware, can check the new information and be aware of the details that are available and where the new service can be accessed from.

Guidance on offering a flare disposal service is provided by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Department of Transport.

CIWM-affiliated organisation Ramora offers such a service.

There are specific legal requirements covering acquiring, keeping, transporting and disposal of explosives and pyrotechnical articles including fireworks, with the Explosive Regulations 2014 setting out the safety requirements for duty holders.

It is recognised that waste and recycling facility operators may come across explosive and pyrotechnical articles during the collection and processing of waste and recycling materials and should therefore carefully consider the safety of their staff and their duties under the legislation, prior to accepting any explosive, pyrotechnical article or fireworks.

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