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Flares, Paint and Oil — Which One Does Not Belong?

A couple of weekends ago we changed the oil in our boat, and in a time-honored tradition, we poured the old oil into the local storm drain. Not! We actually dropped it off at an auto parts store that takes waste oil for recycling. Easy.

We also have a bunch of leftover paint from recent work on our house. Luckily we received a notice in the mail about recycling surplus paint. No problem.

So now you know the one that doesn’t belong. Disposing of flares is your almost impossible-to-solve problem. A hurdle so high it surely tempts many to dispose of them in ways they shouldn’t.

Paint Recycling
You can drop waste paint off at designated paint stores because PaintCare has the problem solved for you.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

In our current February issue, writer Tim Henry sheds a little more light on the vexing problem of disposing of your required yet expired marine flares. Why flare manufacturers are allowed to keep dumping this responsibility on the end user remains a mystery. It’s a story we’ve written about for decades with little sign of progress. There are some dedicated people who have made some progress on flare disposal, but so far, disposing of waste paint and oil is light years ahead.

Does it have to be this hard?


  1. Pat McIntosh 1 year ago

    Hi John. This isn’t an ultimate solution, but lots of cruisers heading to Mexico roundup flairs from friends and dockmates and bring them down for fishermen along the coast. In the past we brought down A LOT OF THEM and at one point the Port Captain of one place helped us give them out to the local fishing fleet. (Maybe an unofficial item for the Ha Ha )

  2. Ben Shaw 1 year ago

    Thanks for addressing this ongoing issue John and Lat 38. For years I’ve had a couple boxes of expired flares in my garage awaiting proper disposal. Recently I just moved and again was confronted with what to do with these. On a whim, I called my local police station. Lo and behold they said “bring ‘em on in. We’ll take care of them.” I don’t know if this was a one-time fluke or a regular service of the SFPD but I jumped on the opportunity and am now finally flare free!!!

    • John Arndt 1 year ago

      Very interesting. We’d like to know if other sailors have similar results?

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