Out of Date Distress Flare Disposal Solutions

by [email protected] in Portsmouth

Out of Date Distress Flare Disposal Solutions
Not quite
Unfortunately this project was not successful.

To raise funds in order to publicise the funding campaign for a UK wide solution

by [email protected] in Portsmouth

This page is aimed at raising funds to advertise the larger campaign to fund a network of sites across the UK which will provide FREE and ACCESSIBLE Distress Flare/Pyrotechnic Disposal in specific areas.


Any funds raised here will only be used to advertise and promote the main fundraising page which will go live in early November. It will not go towards any aspect of practical distress flare disposal and collection services



Since the Ministry of Defence teams stopped collecting out of date flares from MCA stations in 2009 there have been several attempts to fill the void. Despite considerable funds being expended in the establishment of these government led schemes the appetite for tax payer funded waste disposal in this area is very much lacking. The number of available locations around the UK for safe and compliant flare disposal is on the decline and whilst a number of manufacturers are trying to assist by taking in old flares when new ones are purchased, this doesn't account for the many different flares from a broad range of suppliers and countries, needing to be disposed of. As a result of the lack in available disposal routes and in some instances the costs for private disposal, there has been an increase in people keeping hold of out of date flares. Equally, recent years has seen a growing increase in the number of incidents involving the illegal dumping of flares which only result in elevated risks to those who discover them. In addition, the environmental impacts of flares which are poorly stored, left to go out of date or dumped illegally are considerable. Often these types of flare are damaged or so old that road transport is not permitted by UK law and they need to be destroyed on site with the resultant polution. This service would remove the need for hoarding or dumping and thereby reduce the need for on site disposal and its associated impacts.

Whilst not part of their mandated roles or responsibilities the Police, Fire Service and Coastguard are all called upon to provide a level of service in relation to out of date flares. Whilst the level of appetite and capability differs across the country and within each organisation there is a significant cost to the tax payer for this activity. Despite the military EOD teams responding to explosives related incidents they will not routinely support the disposal of non military items, such as distress flares, and therefore any agency wishing to dispose of these items must source a commercial solution and meet the associated costs which are often not budgeted. 


Our Aim

We are looking to establish a nationwide solution with at least 23 permanent static collection sites located across the UK which would also be supplemented by planned 20+ collection day events (often termed amnesties) where members of the public can bring along their flares for no charge.

The solution would include licensed drop off points with patented storage units and trained staff to receive the flares. Each site would record all flares collected and an online system would ensure accurate accounting of items on the site and trigger notifications when approaching capacity. Once a capacity trigger is activated a collection team will attend the site and remove all items for safe compliant disposal. It is envisaged that no sites would need more than 3 collections per annum but additional collections can be managed within the service due to nationwide coverage and likelihood of regular collection runs.

Drop Off Point  Locations

A separate campaign is being established for each county/region wishing to have a distress flare disposal service. As an initial assessment we believe these areas would provide a good spread of availability. Anyone wishing to have their area included in the list should contact us such that we can review the options and where appropriate develop the project further.




(These sites are for collection only and items will be removed for environmentally compliant disposal elsewhere in the UK)

Collection Days (also known as 'Flare Amnesty' events)

A total of 20 'amnesty' or collection days will be scheduled during each year spread across the UK in areas not supported by static sites. These will include islands where there is a sizeable leisure boating community who can benefit.


We have been involved with explosives  and particularly pyrotechnics (marine distress flares and fireworks) since 2005. During this time we have undertaken commercial disposals across the entire UK and islands, and provided free of charge amnesty events in a number of regions. Specifically, we have undertaken a number of flare amnesty events, on an annual basis, in Hampshire, Dorset, Sussex and Kent over the past 4 years. The overwhelming response from those dropping flares into us is one of gratitude but also questioning why there isn't a wider solution which doesn't involve driving miles with dangerous flares etc. Equally, many boaters question why they should pay for the disposal. Whilst we have no wish to debate the payment issue, it is clear that those who do not wish to pay to dispose of their flares will either keep them for longer than they should, or worse, they will find a potentially less compliant disposal route.

Videos of previous events we have been involved in

Beaulieu Flare Amnesty

Dorset Flare Amnesty

Key Project Aims

This service is designed to achieve the following key aims:

  • Be Free of Charge to members of the public (inc commercial boat operators/fishermen etc)
  • Establish a viable network of drop off points across the UK
  • Supplement the drop off points with amnesties in areas with less need for a static site (some islands)
  • Ensure each site and amnesty is compliant with all safety and environmental requirements
  • Reduce the travelling time people currently need to undergo to drop off distress flares
  • Not impose a limit on the number of flares being dropped by leisure users/members of the public
  • Provide sites that are accessible, without the need to book in advance, during set opening hours
  • Guarantee the service delivery for not less than 4 years
  • Undertake Research & Development into a more sustainable solution to the flare disposal solution alongside options for environmentally friendly disposal processes for such items

Outline Project Timelines

Funding + 4 weeks - Identify specific sites within each region/county and commence audit/survey for licensing

Funding + 6 weeks - Site license applications and QC of storage units

Funding + 2 months - Initial Amnesty events x 4

Funding + 3 months - Licenses in place and commence delivery of stores/consumables.

Funding + 3 months - Training of site staff & sites Go Live 

Annual Service to run for 12 months from the date of site establishment and availability for collections

What are the costs and Issues?

These requirements have specific costs attached and when combined provide the cost for establishing each site (appx £28,000) and the cost for undertaking the annual collections and maintenance of the storage facility (appx £3,500 per annum/ site assuming 3 collections). We would also wish to highlight that Ramora UK are supporting this project by delivering all their services at cost, alongside covering 10% of the costs to establish and maintain the solution.

Who will benefit?

  • Leisure boat owners (by providing a managed solution across all areas for the disposal of distress flares)
  • Charities (charities who have out of date flares will receive collection free of charge for any flares they have for their own purposes/use. eg, rescue services)
  • Marinas and Boatyards (the availability of dedicated collection points will reduce the need for marinas to store flares illegally or temporarily, along with the reduced risk benefits)
  • MCA, Police and Fire services, who currently deal with a number of abandoned flares (this service will help reduce the amount of dumped items)

Public Safety

The risks associated with out of date flares are well known and whilst a number of people will suggest "they are not dangerous" or "are good for longer periods than stated by the manufacturer" the evidence stacks against that view. There are documented cases of professional mariners being injured by flares and several 'accidental' activations have occurred.

The fact remains that all distress flares are classed as explosives and should be handled, stored and disposed of in accordance with the relevant legislation. The increasing incidence of abandoned flares only serves to  elevate the risks to those who may come into contact with the items and a managed, compliant and proven solution will have a marked and profound impact on the levels of exposure.

Who is our audience?

There are over 900,000 boat owners in the UK and it is estimated that more than 400,000 of these utilise/own marine distress flares. They are distributed across the entire country and often berth their boat at a seperate marina or coastal location. Distress flares need to be replaced every 3 years at considerable cost. The efforts then required to undertake safe disposal add not only to the costs but also the risks and concerns of many we have spoken to. 

If you believe there is a need for a solution ain your area, or indeed across the UK, and can see the benefit of our proposal then please do support us. If you have any questions about how the system works in practice then we would be delighted to explain further. If you are part of a boat club, marina or other organisation and would like to be considered as one of the static sites then contact us (there is no cost for this).

Quarterly Newsletter

Anyone backing this project will be added to the project mailing list and receive a quarterly report on how it is progressing with details of each site and updates on flare safety/use and any events or amnesties that are planned. Anyone wishing to opt out of this, needs merely to advise us at any stage. No contact details will be sold or used for any other purpose unless specifically requested and agreed with you.

PLEASE NOTE - Pledges made to this page will only be used to market and publicise the range of regional crowdfunding pages aimed at delivering a nationwide solution to the out of date distress flare issue.



This project offers rewards in return for your donation. Please select a reward below.

£10 or more

£10 Reward

Quarterly newsletter outlining progress of the scheme and providing additional safety related information and news

£100 or more

£100 Reward

Vibrating Hand Grenade (stress relief toy) UK Pledges only as cannot ship overseas

Got an idea like this?

Over £200 million has been raised from our crowd to support the projects they love! Plus tens of millions more unlocked by our partners.