What are Marine Flares?

Marine Flares are visual distress signals used to summon help on boats in the event of danger and are required by the U.S. Coast Guard for boats operating on certain water ways. The U.S. Coast Guard requires that boats carry 3 visual distress signals at all times approved for both day and night use, or three for day use and three for night use. Marine flares must be stowed accessibly and must not be expired. (Source: CPSC)

PYROTECHNIC MARINE FLARES ARE CONSIDERED EXPLOSIVE HAZARDOUS WASTE WHEN DISPOSED OF AND REQUIRE SPECIAL HANDING WHEN NO LONGER NEEDED OR EXPIRED

The Problem

 Single-use pyrotechnic marine flares expire and must be replaced approximately every 42 months.

However, due their classification as hazardous waste, proper disposal of these pyrotechnic marine flares is restricted and extremely expensive. The difficulty of disposal of these single-use flares causes many boaters to simply store them, dispose of them illegally in their regular garbage, or even throw them into lakes, rivers, and oceans.

Pyrotechnic marine flares contain a multitude of toxic chemicals, including perchlorate and metals, that can leech into drinking water supply and damage the environment when improperly disposed.

Furthermore, they pose a serious fire risk, especially when misfired or improperly used for celebratory occasions.

Currently in many counties in California, there is no permanent safe disposal options for single-use pyrotechnic marine flares.

 

TIP:   Residents are urged to consider switching to reusable electronic visual distress devices (eVDSDs) over single-use marine flares. eVDSDs by Sirius Signal are Coast Guard Approved, never expire, and can last a lifetime.

While there currently are no safe, permanent disposal options in the Bay Area, Alameda County, Delta Diablo, Del Norte County, West Contra Costa County (West Contra Costa County Integrated Waste Management Authority/RecycleMore), and the California Product Stewardship Council (CPSC) have partnered with CalRecycle, California State Parks, Coastal Commission’s California Boating Clean and Green Program, and BoatUS Foundation, to collect expired marine flares and educate residents about marine flare management safety, including the advantages of reusable distress signals, to protect Bay Area communities and the local environment.

 

Temporary Collection Events

Periodically, a special temporary event will be held to for you to bring unwanted and expired marine flares to safely drop off at a collection site.

Click here to access the RecycleMore events page to view the individual multi-day collection event scheduled from October 5 – November 5, 2022.

 

Resources

2022 Guide to Marine Flare Management in California

LINK TO BROCHURE

 

Content provided by in partnership with the California Product Stewardship Council (CPSC).