World Sailing Trust and RYA Green Blue are collaborating with Sustainable Sailing Ltd, a world leading company in sail recycling, to launch the first nationwide, water sport survey to understand the use and recycling of marine sports equipment and clothing in the UK.

Over a million tonnes of used textiles are generated every year in the UK and of these, only some are resold, repurposed or recycled. For sports-related textiles, their technical materials mean most end their lives in landfill, releasing microplastics which have been detected across the globe, including in Antarctica. The situation is even worse for composite materials, such as glass fibre, which are used to build water sports equipment. There are over 1.5 million composite yachts and 1 million composite dinghies globally, with about 1-2 % reaching end-of-life (EoL) annually. Recently the fibres and resins that fragment from these EoL boats has been shown to be eaten by shellfish and cause ecosystem damage.

To address this, Sustainable Sailing Ltd has developed recycling solutions to prevent water sports related textiles and composites from reaching landfill. Their solution can even recover all the chemical building blocks of these textiles. This means that these building blocks can be reassembled to make new, durable garments.

As they scale up their recycling systems, Sustainable Sailing need to ensure their technologies meet the needs of water sports participants in the UK. They are aiming exploring the current trends, preferences, and attitudes of UK consumers towards their water sports equipment, including the amount it gets used and what happens to it at its end of life. Other key areas of focus include:

  • Activity participation: Understanding the types of adventure sports people in the UK favour and the textiles and equipment used.
  • Equipment and clothing volumes: Gathering information about the quantity of sports-related textiles and equipment that consumers own.
  • Usage patterns: Assessing current processes for end-of-life textiles and how these could be improved.
  • Green attitudes: Exploring consumer attitudes towards recycling old or worn-out sports clothing and their willingness to adopt recycled products.

Dee Caffari, Chair of World Sailing Trust, comments: “This research aligns well with the work that we are already doing with the Carbon Fibre Circular Alliance, and the Equipment Recycling Hub initiative, that was launched last year in partnership with World Sailing and METSTRADE.  While there is plenty of anecdotal evidence around end-of-life equipment, there is little, if any data to support this.  Through the work of the Carbon Fibre Circular Alliance, we already know that sport is the third largest user of carbon fibre and that marine sports are the second largest user in the sports sector. Therefore, highlighting not only the issues around carbon fibre, but also GRP, blocks, ropes, clothing and sails, is critical to the ongoing sustainability of our sport.”

Dr Joe Penhaul-Smith, founding director of Sustainable Sailing adds, “Our clothing and equipment is designed to be hard wearing and resistant to all the abuse of high-performance sports, but this has come at the cost of being difficult to manage at the end of use. This survey will allow us to understand the needs of our consumers, allowing us to innovate and offer environmentally responsible products and services. We encourage all UK residents who participate in adventure sports to take part in our survey and share their valuable insight.”

To participate in the survey, please visit or   Closing date is 22 August 2024.