On 18 January 2016 the new EU rules on boats, personal water craft, engines and components will begin to apply. Besides other they foresee some strict regulations on the choice of materials: Big % of the total weight of a ship has to consist of recyclable components then. Here is a guide to the new directive, in several languages.

So who is out there already, producing better materials?
Namateco is an Italian company (Bergamo) specialising in development and production of “sustainable, natural fibre reinforced composites for the construction, design, transport and marine industries”. Natural fibres might be a very interesting alternative material for boat construction compared to glass fibres. Not only does extraction and production require significantly less fossil fuel for natural fibres compared to glass fibres, with resulting emissions being much less. Also, the stiffness and overall resistance of natural fibres appears to be very strong. Of which ‘natural fibres’ are we talking? Bamboo certainly and, quote from the website: “…observations are likely to be valid across different natural fibres, since their production processes are very similar.”


This concept is laid out in more detail here.

Combining the best of the ancient and modern worlds – or, like Namateco says: “High tech solutions merge with traditional craftsmanship.” Worth an extra look is definitely also their project ‘Green Cruiser 50’, a hybrid sailing yacht, featuring a biocomposite of bamboo fibre/epoxy resin. Below is an image of it. Details here.

green_cruiser_50Both images on this page: Courtesy of Namateco.

More Italy-based innovation comes form LinseT, a “testing and experimental engineering laboratory”. They are testing a new sort of yacht construction material, consisting of natural fibre, completely recyclable, equally strong and resistant as today’s fibreglass and therefore aimed to replace it. With +6 million of recreational yachts currently out there in and near European waters alone, big part of them reaching their end of life in the coming decade and having a fibreglass hull, that sounds like a fine solution.

Until it actually appears, why not have a look at another interesting development:  Volcanic fibre aka basalt fibre could be the next material for future construction of seagoing yachts:


Austrian company Fipofix just designed an Fipofix Open 16 and what is reported sounds exciting – verbatim quote from Gizmag:
“Carbon fibre has established itself as a wonder material in vehicle construction, with its mix of low weight and high strength being prized for many of the world’s most advanced vehicles of land, sea and air. Austrian company Fipofix believes that it’s identified a material better-suited to the high seas, saying that its specially processed volcanic fibre-based composite, more commonly known as basalt fibre, offers a better performance-price ratio than carbon fibre or fibreglass and can be recycled after use. The company is in the process of testing the material in some of the world’s most extreme marine conditions.”
Here is the full article.



About mele

I research and write about the intersection of yachting with the environment aka 'sustainable sailing'. From sourcing planet-friendly yacht construction materials, sailors for ocean science, clean regattas, renewable energies aboard right up to yacht recycling. Academic training in environmental science, sailor, living at the shores of the Dutch IJsselmeer. Want me to write for you, too? Get in touch!

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