A route to a greener future
Baltic Yachts has seized the sustainability initiative in its implementation of processes and practices that resonate across every element of its operation…
Sustainability and a greener future are integral to growth and success, as Anders Kurtén, CEO of Baltic Yachts, conveys, “Any part of the industry which doesn’t take sustainability seriously doesn’t have a future; it is that simple”. With this in mind, Baltic Yachts has set about defining and working towards its own sustainability targets, but as Kurtén explains, defining the targets themselves is the first hurdle to be overcome. “One of the challenges that come with setting a high standard for the environmental aspects of production is that there is no sustainability standard to measure from.” As Kurtén continues, “We decided about three years ago, given the absence of such a standard, that we would apply our expertise and experience and decide on our own set of parameters from which to measure and quantify our progress.”
The critical differentiator for Kurtén and the team at Baltic Yachts is the willingness to engage with the smaller, less headline-grabbing changes that need to be made. Sustainability solutions, very often, are greater than the sum of their parts, as Kurtén explains the philosophy further. “It is a trickle of multiple small streams that pull together to contribute something greater. There may be this frustrating sense that there is no ‘silver bullet’; however, the industry must keep track of these small contributing influences. The positive being that many of them are very easy to change, it just requires a focus and cultural shift.”
Baltic Yachts have implemented a series of sustainability solutions across its shipyards, and by its own high standards have made significant positive steps towards sustainability. Baltic Yachts has recently converted all power consumption to locally generated windfarm and hydro-electricity, with all fossil fuel generators replaced by organic, bio-pallet heating systems. Baltic has also reduced unsorted waste to zero and also reduced the waste per labour hour by over 10 per cent.
Baltic Yachts are also pioneering the use of more complex technologies. One of which ironically draws on a natural solution steeped in maritime tradition: flax, as Kurtén explains further, “We are delighted to have launched the 68ft Café Racer, which to our knowledge is the largest boat that has ever been built where flax has structural properties; in over 50 per cent of the hull and structures we have substituted carbon fibre for flax.” When asked about the potential for this green solution on larger superyachts, Kurtén and Baltic Yachts are ready. “There is no technical obstacle to scaling this up to a 100-foot superyacht, we just need the right project. We believe it is only a matter of time before the right combination of owner and circumstances will align and we can implement this technology on a larger scale.”
The presumed un-recyclability of GRP (glass reinforced plastic) vessels has long been an inconvenient truth of the yachting industry, and the end-of-life process for these yachts is usually to be resigned to the scrap heap. With Baltic’s pioneering use of carbon fibre for a generation, it was natural to see the re-proposing of carbon as a sustainability standard that they can adopt. As Kurtén explains, while nascent, these technologies will likely play a crucial part in a sustainable future. “There is another really promising technology, which is not quite there yet, but it looks extremely promising: recycled carbon fibre through solvolysis, and reversing the lamination process.”
Baltic Yachts will keep driving their sustainability targets forward because, as Kurtén explains, “Sustainability, as a term, is evolving and is more than a simple PR exercise. When talking about sustainability and superyachts, it has transitioned from being an interesting icebreaker at a cocktail party with clients, influencers and gatekeepers. Now the world has changed to such an extent that it’s a genuine competitive advantage, as well as an environmental imperative.”
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