Lifesaving boats to live on: the RNLI and RCA search for sustainable solutions

Lifeboats News Release

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has been working with the Royal College of Art to find ways of upcycling old lifeboats, as part of the charity’s drive to send no waste to landfill by 2024.

Royal College of Art students concept design for keyrings made out of non-recyclable materials

Royal College of Art

Royal College of Art students' concept design for keyrings made out of non-recyclable materials

The RNLI has been working with students at the Royal College of Art to come up with ideas for re-using materials from decommissioned lifeboats. The students were given boat materials that cannot currently be recycled, like Hypalon which is used to make the inflatable tubes on an inshore lifeboat. They were asked to come up with ideas for how those materials could be re-used to create products to help the charity raise vital funds and promote its safety messages and lifesaving work.

Ideas from the students included creating playground equipment to help the charity’s Youth Education team, keyrings that could be given out by the charity’s Face-to-Face fundraisers, and bespoke decorative brooches that could be sold in the RNLI’s shops.

Hannah Nobbs, Innovation Scout for the RNLI said, ‘It’s been great collaborating with the Royal College of Art and we are really excited to see the ideas from the different perspectives that the students brought to the challenge of repurposing waste. We’ll now look at their ideas and see which are options that we could use in the future.’

The project comes as part of the lifesaving charity’s aim to send zero waste to landfill by 2024. This year, the RNLI has swapped plastic cups and plastic spoons for more sustainable alternatives at its headquarters – resulting in 198,000 plastic spoons and 172,000 plastic cups no longer being sent to landfill each year. The charity also changed plastic bags for paper bags in its shops.

The RNLI’s Face-to-Face fundraising team has also been looking at reducing plastic in their products and searching for sustainable and affordable alternatives.

Meanwhile, for the past decade the charity has been moving to more sustainable energy alternatives at 48 of its sites around the country. This includes solar panels at 28 sites (including 18 lifeboat stations), a wind turbine installed at Aith Lifeboat Station in Scotland, and 28 ground source heat pumps at multiple lifeboat stations and the charity’s Grace Darling Museum in Northumberland. This is helping to generate energy as well as money for the charity, as well as helping the charity to reduce its impact on the environment.

Anna Frizzell, Sustainability Manager for the RNLI said, ‘We’re always looking for more solutions to reduce our impact on the environment and to make the RNLI more sustainable. As a charity, we’re committed to ensuring our supporters’ donations are spent wisely, and if we’re able to re-use materials for other purposes then we can ensure that money goes further.’

RNLI media contacts

For more information please telephone the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789 or email pressoffice@rnli.org.uk.

Royal College of Art students unpacking the decommissioned D class lifeboat for use in the project

Royal College of Art

Royal College of Art students unpacking the decommissioned D class lifeboat for use in the project
Royal College of Art students' concept design for brooches made from non-recyclable materials

Royal College of Art

Royal College of Art students' concept design for brooches made from non-recyclable materials
One of the Royal College of Art students' concept design for a brooch made from non-recyclable materials

Royal College of Art

One of the Royal College of Art students' concept design for a brooch made from non-recyclable materials

RNLI/Nathan Wiliams

RNLI D-class lifeboat in action - similar to the decommissioned one that Royal College of Art students used in their project
Aith RNLI's wind turbine

RNLI/Nigel Millard

Aith RNLI's wind turbine

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.

Categories