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Senator Blakespear Introduces Marine Flare Producer Responsibility Act

On Feb. 12, state Sen. Catherine Blakespear (D-38) introduced Senate Bill 1066: The Marine Flare Producer Responsibility Act. Sponsored by the National Stewardship Action Council (NSAC), SB 1066 will establish Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for pyrotechnic marine flares, a move that is the first of its kind in the U.S.

“Boaters love the water and want to protect it from pollution,” Blakespear said. “Properly disposing of unwanted marine flares, which can contain toxic perchlorate and expire approximately every three years, should be as convenient as it is to purchase them. SB 1066 establishes a way to do that.”

Anestimated 174,000 outdated flares are generated each year by recreational vessels in California. While considered household hazardous waste (HHW), most HHW facilities in California are unable to accept unwanted marine flares as they lack permits or equipment to safely handle explosives. There is also the exorbitant costs to properly manage them since they must be shipped out-of-state for proper disposal.

“Historically, the costs to manage unwanted marine flares have been socialized by every ratepayer, whether they own and operate a boat or not.” said Courtney Scott, who manages the household hazardous waste program for Zero Waste Sonoma. “In 2023, it cost an estimated $185 to properly dispose of one unwanted marine flare, which can be purchased new for approximately $13.”

SB 1066 will require producers of marine flares to fund and operate a convenient collection system to manage expired or unwanted flares, shifting the costs of managing this product from cities and counties – and ultimately local ratepayers – to the producers/users.

Jordan Wells, director of advocacy and communications at NSAC shared, “Pyrotechnic marine flares contain toxic metals and pollutants that can negatively impact water quality and human health. While we encourage boaters to use the reusable, electronic alternative, we must also ensure that the marine flares being sold into the California marketplace today are being properly managed at [the end of their life].”

“Currently, it is virtually impossible for boaters to properly dispose of expired boating distress flares – which represent a real safety threat as they deteriorate, but they can be purchased quite conveniently. We thank Senator Blakespear for her leadership in making the lives of responsible boaters easier.” said Ann Kinner, a San Diego resident, 40-year boat owner, licensed professional mariner and owner of Sea Breeze Books and Charts.

NSAC was founded in 2015 as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that engages in education and advocacy work to drive “an equitable, circular economy, anywhere in the U.S., and at any level of government.”

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