Building clean boats for better future

Published on June 19th, 2022

Just because something is recyclable doesn’t mean it will be recycled, or can be done so affordably, but learning how to build “clean” boats is a good start as shared in this update:

The ecoOptimist dinghy is the first recyclable sailing boat of the Optimist class in the world, which has been designed and built by Northern Light Composites in Monfalcone, Italy, who have teamed up with Clean Sailors to launch the ecoOptimist for young sailors.

The materials for the hull of the ecoOptimist were selected and tested to make sure that they delivered the same high performance as conventionally built boats in the Optimist class, but in a package that is significantly more sustainable.

“Many of us sailors started with the Optimist and it is really exciting for us to launch this project for a new generation of recyclable boats,” said Fabio Bignolini, co-founder of nlcomp. “I believe that starting with young sailors is the way to change the marine industry’s perception about our new technology and what is possible for the future of better boatbuilding.”

The ecoOptimist is not only built from sustainable materials but also recyclable once it is no longer fit to carry young sailors – more than 90% of the hull are already recyclable today and soon it should be 100%.

“Much of the current, global Optimist class are imported plastic hulls which enter landfill at end of life,” explained says Holly Manvell, founder of Clean Sailors. “It’s therefore super important to consider and develop how we produce this boat, and how we introduce our future sailors to a better way of sailing, at comparable cost.”

The ampliTex natural fibre reinforcements, Atlas HPE core and resin can then be reused to produce new components. Compared to conventional glass fibres, flax fibres reduce the CO2 footprint of the composite from cradle to gate and don’t rely on fossil resources for the production of the raw material.

Instead, they sequester CO2 from the atmosphere during their growth and act as a natural CO2 sink during their entire lifetime.

nlcomp was founded in December 2019 to deal with the research and development of recyclable composites in order to solve the problems related to the end of life of fiberglass composites.

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