Increased focused on the environmental impact of boat and product manufacturing and supply has drawn in a wide range of ideas, many of them looking quite radical at the moment and with cost burdens that act as barriers to adoption. The recyclability of boats is also going up the agenda internationally. However, some are already tackling environmental impacts in surprisingly practical and relatively easy to implement ways, as was explained at the last edition of the Sustainability in the Marine Industry Conference hosted by METSTRADE.
One of the speakers, Paolo Bertetti of Sanlorenzo, says his company already improves the ecological credentials of their yachts by extending their anticipated time in service. Speaking after he had made presentations at the Conference and on the METSTRADE Innovation Lab, he explained: “We look at the entire life of the product and taking care of its environmental impact. A yacht is disposed of not because it is too old, but because people lose interest in it. So the point is how to extend the appeal of the yacht.
“You need to have attractive lines that still work well after many years. Then you need to design and build it in such a way at the beginning so that you can update its interior. It’s like a house – you are not going to scrap it, you are going to change the wall paint or the furniture.
“You must prepare the yacht from the beginning to be transformed in its life, even if the owner is changing," Bertetti continues. "If the freedom is there to change what is inside then the life can be extended. If we extend the life of the yacht then it’s also important that the impact of the environment is as good as it can be when you use it. You must also focus on solutions that give efficiency too, starting with the engines, hull shape, systems and so on."
So how does this work in practice at Sanlorenzo?
“There are yards that change their models every three four years to drive sales. We focus instead on longer timespans for our models without extreme design elements that will prematurely age their look," Bertetti explains. "We also offer customisation of the interiors – in our case each yacht is different.
“We have to wise up and focus on something that is really positive in terms of sustainability that makes sense for everyone. Recycling fibreglass back into fibreglass is not cost effective – you get virgin material cheaper.
“In other industries, we have seen the lease model apply where the manufacturer owns the product, not the consumer. That way the manufacturer has an incentive to use better materials and you can move to zero landfill.
“We have all been focused on survival since the 2008 downturn, but now things are starting to get better and it is the right time to invest. In the yacht industry, we don’t have high profitability. So, it is very important that all of us are focusing on the right target where we can have the better return on our investment to reduce the environmental impact. Then we must disclose that with the rest of the industry through events like the Sustainability in the Marine Industry Conference here at METSTRADE.”