On November 4th, Arthur le Vaillant will depart from Saint Malo, France, for the 11th edition of the Route du Rhum. As part of the framework of the partnership “Sustainability by Leyton”, Leyton accompanies Arthur in this formidable adventure and worked tirelessly with him on the environmental impact of the boat.
Two studies were conducted as part of our collaboration:
- To being with, a comprehensive study was designed to establish a “LifeCycle Analysis” (LCA) of the vessel, including its carbon footprint with relation to global warming.
- Following this, a more specific study was carried out focusing on the energy consumption of the Class40 during the race with the aim of minimising the carbon impact.
The Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) of Arthur’s boat
The Life Cycle Analysis of a product consists of:
- Analysing all the processes involved in the production of the Class40, from its conception to its end of life, using a perimeter known as “Cradle to Grave”.
- Identifying each of the environmental consequences, their origins, as well as the risks to the environment, health or the economy.
This analysis, both precise and technical, follows rules carried forward in the ISO 14040 (LCA principles and framework) and ISO 14044 (LCA requirements and guidelines) standards and is intended to communicate on the energy performance of a product, but also to assist in the piloting of an eco-design approach.
Why this approach?
It is important to note that, as a general rule, there is very little attention focused on the overall environmental impact of vessels. However, when the manufacturing, operating and the end-of-life of the boats are considered, even the most simple sailboats have a massive energy footprint. Furthermore, purely being interested in the environmental impacts during a race such as the Route du Rhum would have been far too short sighted, as we know that the life cycle of Arthur Le Vaillant’s Class40 exceeds 50 years! It was therefore essential to carry out a complete analysis of the life cycle of the boat.
This LCA approach is a first step towards an overall “eco-design” approach for the Class40 in particular, and boats in general. Thanks to this innovative study, Leyton hopes to contribute to a greater general awareness and provide an example to the yachting industry.
To study the impact of the Class40 in the life cycle approach, it was necessary to cover the different stages of its life cycle in as much detail as possible:
- The manufacture of raw materials: epoxy resins, carbon fibres, polyesters, metals etc.
- The construction of the Class40: processes for the manufacture of the hull, sails, spars etc.
- The use of Class40: In particular the course chosen for the Route du Rhum 2018
- The end of life of the boat
Main results of the study
The manufacturing of the Class40 generated roughly 25 tons of CO2, equivalent to the average emissions produced by 3 European citizens on per year, the same as travelling 100,000 km by car, or seven Paris to New York flights.
The LCA study showed us manufacturing a Class40 had a massive energy cost and significant environmental impact. For example, raw materials are made up of elements with significant toxicity levels. These, mostly made in China, have to be transported to the shipyard in Quiberon Bay, which significantly increases the carbon footprint.
In addition, in order to preserve all the chemical qualities of pre-impregnated carbon fabrics used on the boat, these materials are stored in a cold room at -18 °c for very long periods of time: this storage alone contributes to 40% of the carbon footprint of the production of spars!
And the end of life in all this?
Unfortunately, we find that recycling options are poorly developed within the nautical industries. Each year in France, more than 20,000 vessels that arrive at the end of life often end up in wrecks when abandoned, when at the same time, the majority of the 1,200 commercial boats are sent to Asia to be dismantled under shady conditions and following low standards. Even worse, some boats are simply sunk, which has disastrous consequences for the environment.
There are, however, companies specialised in the deconstruction and de-pollution of out-of-use pleasure crafts (BPHU), of which about 20 are approved by the APER (Association for Eco-responsible yachting), and deconstruct boats with respect to the environment. However, composite materials, which account for about 40% of the waste, are often valued only as solid recovery fuels (CSR). A greater recovery of waste from the deconstruction of ships should be attained, for example by reusing it as raw materials for the construction of new vessels.
Convinced of the need to mobilise boating’s experts for the preservation of the environment and sustainable development, we believe that the manufacture of boats must be redesigned in a true approach of eco-design.
By knowing the impacts of each component of a boat, at each stage of its life, we will be able to appreciate, from the project phase, the total environmental impact and thus achieve the construction of “Clean” ships. The project “Sailboat of the Future”, initiated by the navigator Catherine Chabaud, showcased innovation on bio-materials (and in particular bio-resins) for boating, renewable energies embedded, the treatment of water and waste on board, or even anti-fouling paints.
Carbon debt compensation
Despite the benefits of installing photovoltaic solar panels on the boat, which will prevent the emission of roughly 300 kg of CO2 during the race, the boat displays a carbon debt of approximately 27 tonnes when related to the construction of the Arthur’s Class40 and its use for the Route du Rhum.
Leyton is committed to fully compensating this carbon debt, particularly through reforestation projects. Whilst the planting of trees and reforestation can undoubtedly be part of the solution to combat climate change, such actions cannot suffice alone. These solutions are part of a framework of compensation, of reparation, where it is necessary to be part of a ethos of prevention. This is the objective that we are determined to pursue in the framework of the global project “Sustainability by Leyton”.