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Cape Breton recycling company becoming ‘Ghostbusters for dead boats’

Several abandoned boats were recovered by CleanTech Renewables Ltd. in the community of Goldboro, Guysborough County, late last year. A total of 25 boats have been recovered by the environment management company since September.
Several abandoned boats were recovered by CleanTech Renewables Ltd. in the community of Goldboro, Guysborough County, late last year. A total of 25 boats have been recovered by the environment management company since September. - Contributed

CleanTech Renewables looking for best methods of recycling fiberglass, other materials from abandoned boats

COXHEATH, N.S. — John Aylward calls his team the “ghostbusters for dead boats.”
It’s not far from the truth as environment management company CleanTech Renewables Ltd., based in Coxheath, has entered into an agreement with Transport Canada to find dilapidated vessels, determine if they are indeed abandoned, salvage them by dismantling and then recycling the material.
Aylward, team lead on the project, and CleanTech Renewables CEO Darren Hanson are focusing on wood, fibreglass over wood and fibreglass vessels, typically between 35 feet to 45 feet in length, to assess and test the recycling uses of these materials on the market. 

CleanTech Renewables Ltd. has received $120,000 in funding from Transport Canada to remove and dismantle fibreglass boats and find uses for the recycled material. From left, CleanTech Renewables team lead on the abandoned boat removal project John Aylward, digital marketing co-ordinator Emily Ivey, office manager Denise Bianchini and CleanTech Renewables CEO Darren Hanson, who is holding a piece of fibreglass over wood recovered from an abandoned vessel.
CleanTech Renewables Ltd. has received $120,000 in funding from Transport Canada to remove and dismantle fibreglass boats and find uses for the recycled material. From left, CleanTech Renewables team lead on the abandoned boat removal project John Aylward, digital marketing co-ordinator Emily Ivey, office manager Denise Bianchini and CleanTech Renewables CEO Darren Hanson, who is holding a piece of fibreglass over wood recovered from an abandoned vessel.


Transport Canada has provided $120,000 in funding as part of the federal government’s abandoned boats program.
The program provides grants to assist in the removal of abandoned and/or wrecked small boats posing a hazard in Canadian waters.
Its other purpose is to educate small boat owners about how to responsibly manage their boats and support research on boat recycling and environmentally responsible boat design.
Working in partnership with Nova Scotia Community College Marconi Campus, CleanTech is waiting on a market research report that will provide insight into the size of the existing market for recycled vessel materials and what second uses the material might have.


CleanTech Renewables Ltd.

  • Located at 517 Keltic Dr., Coxheath.
  • Founded in April 2017.
  • Received $120,000 in funding from Transport Canada’s abandoned boats program to find derelict vessels for salvage and recycle most of the materials on them.
  • Have found 25 abandoned boats for salvage since September.
  • Company seeking alternative uses for fibreglass that includes market research in a partnership with the Nova Scotia Community College.

Another goal is to determine if there is technology and equipment currently available to separate fibreglass waste from larger end-of-life materials.
The project has an expected end date of March 2020.
The market for reusing recycled fibreglass is in its “infancy,” according to Aylward.
“What are some better ways to process this stuff,” he said. “If you’re starting with dumping it in the landfills, it’s not hard to come up with a better process.
“The marketing part of it is a big deal. For the last three or four months, we’ve been talking with people all over North America, a few in Europe, about what’s going on there because this is a global thing. I see this as a big opportunity.”

A close-up view of materials broken down from a boat salvaged by CleanTech Renewables Ltd. The company, based in Coxheath, is researching a market for the recycled material, particularly the fibreglass recovered from abandoned vessels.
A close-up view of materials broken down from a boat salvaged by CleanTech Renewables Ltd. The company, based in Coxheath, is researching a market for the recycled material, particularly the fibreglass recovered from abandoned vessels.

Recycled fibreglass material could be used in the process of making cement as is the case in some European countries, while in western Canada it’s being used as refurbished insulation, Aylward said.
“But the one that’s most exciting to us so far is a company out of Ontario and another in the U.S. that are using reprocessed fibreglass (to make) decking material. It literally looks like wood, only it’s a bit stronger than wood.”
In China, the country’s first 3D-printed bridge was unveiled last week in Shanghai’s Putuo District. The 15-metre-long high-tech bridge was made from resin and fibreglass instead of concrete and steel.
Aylward, Hanson and a team of eight employees have identified 25 abandoned vessels in Cape Breton and along northeastern Nova Scotia since September that are candidates for a salvage and recycling operation.
Some of them have been dismantled and run through a large grinder in the production facility behind the CleanTech office.
But it begins by finding and identifying the vessels to determine if there’s an owner and whether it’s a truly abandoned boat that can be salvaged.
“You may have to talk to people in the community (to find out) if anybody owns this boat, if there’s no markings on it,” Hanson said.
Aylward continued: “It’s a bit of detective work. This is all fun stuff too because you get to meet a lot of people here and then people start talking to each other and somebody else calls and says, ‘Well, I heard of this other boat you’ll want to go to.’ It’s kind of like being ghostbusters for dead boats.”
Oftentimes, garbage and debris must be removed along with any contaminants remaining on the vessel.
Some boats were in such a bad state of disrepair that they couldn’t be hauled back to the production facility using a flatbed truck.
“Sometimes you’ve got to cut them up on location,” Hanson said.
The winter period is the slow time of the year for recovering vessels but the company is planning for operations in the spring. 

Employees of CleanTech Renewables Ltd., based in Coxheath, shred fibreglass from an abandoned vessel last fall. The company is researching uses for the recycled fibreglass material.
Employees of CleanTech Renewables Ltd., based in Coxheath, shred fibreglass from an abandoned vessel last fall. The company is researching uses for the recycled fibreglass material.


One such mission involves recovering the 14-metre sailboat Liberty, which ran aground in Gabarus on Oct. 24. 
While most of the belongings of ship’s owner Andy Bunn have been returned to him, a late fall storm completely destroyed the vessel. Much of it is now under water while pieces of the ship are littered along a 400-metre area from the original location of the boat. 
CleanTech Renewables has been in talks with Commercial Marine Dive Services Atlantic of Edwardsville to assist in the salvage operation, Aylward said.
He estimated about half of the vessel is under water.
“We’ll probably do the pickup of what’s left of the Liberty by March.”
Recycling abandoned vessels is only the latest in a long line of projects underway at CleanTech Renewables. 
Founded in April 2017, the company also offers grinding services, manufacturing soils, selling mulch and compost to local landscapers, bagging services and biomass intake for local and export markets.

chris.shannon@cbpost.com
Twitter: @cbpost_chris

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