Sustainable scaffolding in Astilleros De Mallorca
Are Undercover Solutions providing an obvious answer to a glaring issue?
In the capital city of Mallorca alone the amount of plastic being used in the superyacht refit sector is over 200 tonnes per annum, a damning statistic for an island which altogether banned disposable plastics just earlier this year. The looming white bubbles of plastic that envelop vessels during the refit season can be found in most major superyacht locations around the world and have been left unquestioned and unscrutinised for decades.
SuperyachtNews speaks with James Smith, co-founder of Undercover Solutions, about an alternative more sustainable method of protection which is being facilitated by the help of Astilleros De Mallorca.
“The polythene protection can only be used once whereas the metal panels have a lifespan of over 20 years.” Smith explains how,
“There are a number of benefits to this technology, the inside stays warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer and there is also much less noise pollution.”
Environmental benefits aside, the financial inefficiency of ‘drum tight’ plastic shrink wrap pales in comparison to the more modern alternative. In countries such as Spain, the majority of this plastic is imported from other countries, and arrives with an expiry date. It was reported that during the Covid-19 pandemic there were cases of plastic protection having to be replaced at great cost due to the material exceeding its use by date. Moreover, roughly 18-20 per cent of the cut off material is thrown away and never used, a financial and environmental disaster.
Smith also went on to highlight some of the other benefits of the product, “There are so many accidents that occur when applying shrink wrap, with workers balancing on scaffolding holding heat guns. And there isn’t really an official accredited qualification that someone can obtain for the proper application of it, except for the courses the providers supply. With the metal panels we are training the people at our company with the proper methods to safely and efficiently install this product.”
The metal panels are already utilised in the construction of large buildings and have been adopted by some shipyards in Northern Europe. James Smith, Danny Boreham and one other individual who has since left the business, co-founded the company in 2011 with the shared goal of providing quality, professionalism and sustainable business practices for the yachting industry. They were recently awarded the project of building a number of sheltered storage and work spaces in Astilleros De Mallorca.
There are some limitations that come with utilising the metal panels for yachts, for now they can only be built laterally with a plastic roof over top. Even so, on the practical demonstration of the new product which took place recently in Palma, it was proved that almost 80 kg of plastic had been saved with this method. Smith is confident the product can be used on some of the largest megayachts in the world with the panels having a threshold of 50-60 metres in height. If the technology were to become the natural successor to plastic shrink wrapping, as Smith has predicted, the refit sector could significantly reduce the amount of plastic usage.
Smith also went to say,
“Plastic is dispensable, and workers know that, which is why it often gets ripped up and replaced. By having more effective and valuable protection in place, I believe it will encourage the people working in the refit sector to practice more sustainable methods. Therefore, the general tidiness and housekeeping of a refit project will be closer to superyacht standards.”
While the initiative is very much at the early stages, Smith believes the product will be popular with captains and clients who are more likely to award contracts to companies who offer a more sustainable service even if it is at a slightly greater cost. Undercover Solutions will be present at the Monaco Yacht Show this year to present their product to the market and gain feedback from industry stakeholders.
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