Disposing of unwanted marine flares

Details on how to dispose of your unwanted marine flares.

Flares and the law

It is an offence to:

Fire flares on land or in a harbour;

Fire flares at sea for testing, practice or as fireworks;

Dump pyrotechnics at sea.

Damaged or out of date flares should never be used. They should be disposed of safely as soon as possible.

Disposing of unwanted flares

Only contact HM Coastguard when all other means of disposal have been exhausted. Our facilities are very limited and we can only accept a small number of flares from individuals. Before contacting HM Coastguard try:

The place you brought them. They may offer a ‘take back’ scheme Marinas (a small charge may apply) Life raft service stations (some offer a service) The council. They may be accepted at local recycling centres. If you are still unable to dispose of flares you can then contact your nearest coastguard licensed site, all of which are listed below. We will advise if we can help. We do not provide a collection service and we are unable to accept flares from commercial organisations.

HM Coastguard has no responsibility for disposing of flares. We accept them at our own discretion and our storage facilities are limited. Only some of our locations are licensed to store flares.

On contacting a Coastguard Operations Centre (CGOC) you will be asked:

Who you have previously contacted to arrange disposal How many flares you need to dispose How old they are What condition they are in. If we can help, we will arrange for a time for you to deliver the flares.

You may be expected to travel a long distance, or wait several weeks depending on the facilities available in your area.

Do not turn up at HM Coastguard premises without prior agreement. The majority of coastguard locations are not licensed you will be turned away.

Do not collect flares from others. We only accept a reasonable number of flares from individuals in line with the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) carriage recommendations. We do not accept flares from commercial organisations.

Do not leave flares to be discovered. It’s against the law and dangerous. You may be prosecuted if you leave flares outside coastguard, RNLI, police, or fire service premises. Flares may be picked up by children who could be seriously injured or killed as a result.

Do not put flares in household rubbish, garden waste or public litter bins. They can cause extensive damage to refuse collection facilities and may injure persons who come into contact with them.

Contact details for licensed coastguard disposal sites CGOC Aberdeen (licensed site: Buchan coastguard operations base) 01224 592 334.

CGOC Aberdeen (licensed site: Inverness coastguard operations base) 01224 592 334.

CGOC Aberdeen (licensed site: St Andrews coastguard operations base) 01224 592 334.

CGOC Belfast 02891 463 933.

CGOC Belfast (licensed site: Girvan coastguard rescue equipment store) 02891 463 933.

CGOC Dover 01304 210 008.

CGOC Falmouth 01326 317 575.

CGOC Falmouth (Licensed Site Paignton coastguard operations base) 01803 882 704.

CGOC Holyhead 01407 762 051.

CGOC Humber 01262 672 317.

CGOC Humber (North Norfolk coastguard operations base) 01262 672 317.

Liverpool coastguard operations base 01519 313 341.

CGOC Milford Haven 01646 690 909.

CGOC Shetland 01595 692 976.

National Maritime operations centre (licensed site Daedalus training centre) 02392 552 100.

CGOC Stornoway 01851 702 013.

Thames Coastguard operations base 01255 675 518.

RNLI headquarters Poole 01202 336 336.

Published 2 February 2018