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Sustainability in the yacht industry – and how it can be implemented

Hardly any term has developed as much in recent years as the term “sustainability”. But what is sustainability actually?
Intensive discussions are taking place in the scientific community about a generally valid definition of the term. One thing is certain, however: there is no agreement in sight. The idea of sustainability has been a guiding principle for political, economic and ecological action for many years.

This idea is also finding more and more supporters in the yacht industry, such as Brunswick Coperation in the USA. In 2020, the company achieved total sales of $4.3 billion in all four of its business areas. They include Propulsion, Parts and Accessories, Boats, and Business Acceleration. The latter area focuses on new business models and services aimed at expanding participation in boating to a broader consumer base. The group’s established brands include Mercury Marine outboard engines, Quicksilver boats, and Bayliner, Boston Whaler, Sea Ray and Princecraft boat models.

Last year, Brunswick released its “Sustainability Report 2021,” a comprehensive 82-page document outlining the company’s latest sustainability goals and achievements. The report focuses on the pillars of energy (responsible consumption), environment (care for the planet), products (stewardship & quality) and people (quality of life for all stakeholders).

The report commits to adhere to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as much as possible, with specific reference to four of them that closely align with the company’s activities: SDG 9 – Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and drive innovation. SDG 12 – Ensure responsible production and consumption. SDG 13 – Combat climate change and its impacts and SDG 14 – Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

IMPROVEMENTS IN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
Preserving the environment for the future and ensuring clean and accessible waterways for its customers is identified as a key objective in Brunswick’s strategic planning. To that end, the report highlights the following 2020 accomplishments related to environmental improvements

  • Climate: 9% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Energy: 9% reduction in total electricity and fuel consumption
  • Hazardous waste: 13% reduction in absolute tons
  • Water: 13% reduction in total consumption
  • VOC emissions: 20% reduction through more efficient product designs
  • Renewable energy consumption: 1.81 TJ (terajoule units)

BUSINESS CYCLE AND COMMITMENT TO SUSTAINABLE MANUFACTURING IN THE BOATING INDUSTRY
“Our commitment to sustainability, safety and corporate responsibility extends across all levels of governance and management, as well as throughout the company, from the board of directors to our leadership team to our global employees and our distribution and supplier partners,” said Foulkes. “As a global leader in the shipping industry, it is our responsibility to lead the way in sustainability, as we do in many other areas.”

THE LOWEST ACCIDENT RATE IN THE COMPANY’S HISTORY
Achieving zero waste to landfill status at the aluminum boat plant in Ft. Wayne, Indiana – the first Brunswick boat manufacturing facility to achieve this status; this successful program will be replicated at Brunswick’s aluminum boat group plants in 2021.
Installation of a large photovoltaic system at Mercury Marine’s headquarters in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin – this system, along with a similar system at Mercury’s plant in Petit-Rechain, Belgium, will contribute to Brunswick’s goal of generating 50% of its electricity from renewable sources by the end of 2030.

On the subject of building materials, Brunswick’s report notes the importance of pursuing a circular economy. The key elements of this approach are reduction.
Reuse, recycle and remanufacture in all processes. In a case study, the report refers to the conversion of balsa wood, which has historically been used as a core structural material in boat building. It is being replaced with a green PET recycled foam called Kerdyn, made from 100% recycled (post-consumer) plastic bottles. Replacing balsa wood as a filler material in the manufacture of fiberglass boats with Gurit® Kerdyn™ Green PET recycled foam, absorbing 4.7 million plastic bottles per year and saving thousands of trees.
In 2020, Brunswick was recognized multiple times for ESG initiatives, including being named to Forbes’ America’s Best Employers for Women, America’s Best Employers for Diversity and America’s Best Employers for Veterans lists. In addition, the company received the International Boat Industry Community Support Initiative Award, was named by Newsweek to its 2021 list of America’s Most Responsible Companies, and was ranked No. 1 in the Engineering and Manufacturing category on Forbes’ list of America’s Best Large Employers in the Top 10.

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