How SailGP Created Medals from Ocean Plastics for Youth Program
There is no more important cohort to educate about the dangers of ocean plastic and the importance of recycling than the young. Their generation must both lead the charge in changing our ways while dealing with the repercussions their forbearers have left behind. From careless waste management to the unrestrained creation of plastic materials, they must mitigate a legacy of waste and pollution they never signed up for.
To set a positive example and increase knowledge about this issue, SailGP set out to create a meaningful method for building awareness of ocean plastics and ocean plastic recycling among its youth program participants.
SailGP sits in the perfect nexus between youth programming and education and a nautical setting. Knowing they possess a great platform for delivering this message in a relatable way, they wanted to use recycled ocean plastics in the medals it awards to its youth program participants.
SailGP and its inherent commitment to sustainability
The SailGP international sailing competition is the fastest racing class on the water. The competition fuses athleticism, skill, and cutting-edge technology to produce some of the most exhilarating open water racing in the world.
Using high-performance F50 foiling catamarans, these races feature nations competing against each other for the top prizes and are brought to fans using a unique combination of in-person spectating in harbors around the world, broadcast television, and digital streaming experiences that bring fans up-close action.
This high-speed spectacle also features a serious commitment to sustainability. SailGP’s success is predicated on pristine waters and shorelines, so the scourge of ocean plastics is a cause close to the heart of the competition’s organizers. Not wanting to waste their opportunity to educate and make a difference, SailGP has taken many actions to bolster their commitment.
Last year, all six SailGP helmsmen signed onto the United Nations’ Sport for Climate Action Framework and the organization plans to be zero-carbon by 2025. The attention to detail in this domain extends from using recycled T-shirts for event volunteers to eliminating single-use utensils and cups at events. The youth medals opportunity was one more way to make a practical and symbolic move toward a sustainable future.
Partnering with Oceanworks to turn its vision into reality
Knowing they wanted to infuse their youth sailing program with sustainability, SailGP recognized these medals could be a fantastic vehicle for spreading their message. These high profile, highly coveted awards are a highlight for youth sailors, so making them with recycled ocean plastics would literally put their commitment to sustainability on a pedestal.
To identify and source the right materials for this task, SailGP turned to Oceanworks and its global network of recycled ocean plastic suppliers. The project kicked off in November 2019.
The first step was identifying the best polymers for the job. The team ended up settling on two colors of polypropylene, PP190251 (Mint Green) and PP190651 (White).
The mint green material originates in Europe and is primarily composed of intercepted fishing nets, trawls, and ropes as part of a program that reimburses fishermen for their retired fishing gear. The white material comes from Asia and is harvested from ocean-bound waterways in areas with poor waste management.
Next came identifying a molding partner. The team selected Konglomerat, based in Dresden, Germany, for tooling and injection molding of the medals.
In February 2020—just four months from the beginning of this process—the first batch of recycled ocean plastic medals were awarded to sailors at an event in Sydney, Australia. These medals showcased what is possible with recycled ocean plastic and SailGP’s ongoing commitment to sustainability and clean waters.
From idea to launch, Oceanworks helps companies move along their supply chain with ease. For SailGP, this project took just 3 months from concept to launching the Oceanworks Medals to be awarded at the Sydney Australia event.