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Kayaking is one of the most sustainable ways to get on the water as it does not require gasoline, oil, and sound pollution from motors compared to larger commercial boats. But did you know that kayaking has levelled up its game towards innovativeness and sustainability? Introducing the ‘Kakapo kayak’ – a world-first woolen single kayak. 

 

Why use wool in plastics? 

Never in our imaginations would we think that a sheep’s wool can be used to produce kayaks. But thanks to Shear Edge, a start-up business in Christchurch, New Zealand, they’ve made it as their mission to resuscitate New Zealand’s stagnant strong-wool industry by replacing plastics with natural fibers – which is what they did to the ‘Kakapo Kayak’. 

 

How does sheep wool mix with plastic? 

According to Shear Edge, their technology uses the full clip, including dags and bellies, and combines the wool with polymers to create a composite material in pellet form. The performance of the composite is superior in many respects to the plastic it replaces.  

They had all their materials independently tested by Crown Research Institute Scion and by the University of Auckland’s Plastics Centre of Excellence and the results are very remarkable. The results show that the kayak made from wool is stiffer, has higher strength properties and is about 5 to 10 percent lighter.  

Where in rotomoulding is his wooled resin used? 

The ‘Kakapo Kayak’ is made from a composite of 35 percent wool fibers embedded in a matrix of high-density polyethylene. The 20kg kayak is certainly light and durable, but importantly it also sheds 35 percent of the volume of plastic. A Kakapo Woollen Single Kayak uses a 35 per cent natural wool fiber embedded in high-density polyethylene, replacing 2kg of plastic – equivalent to 400 plastic bags. 

The Kakapo Kayak shows us that innovating towards sustainability has no boundaries. By focusing on ‘going green’ in using technology, we can find ways to level up our business and choose to be more eco-friendly 

 

What other uses does this woolen plastic have in roto moulding? 

Another innovation that made a big impact on safety in boating industry is the ‘FatCat Project’.  ‘FatCat’ is a rotomoulded catermeran trailer boat that is the most stable, safe and spacious trailer boats available in New Zealand. 

It addressed the concern of people about safety in going out to sea in small boats, boat swamping, capsizing, and abandoned boats where some lives were lost. ‘FatCat’ was also the solution to the problem that although there are many excellent boats that can handle the conditions, they come at a premium price that is out of the reach of many people. 

Who molds the products using woolen resins? 

What Advanced Rotational Moulding (ARM) did was to make the 4m long rotational molded boat in one piece. The one-piece aspect was important to minimise post-production fabrication and therefore cost. ARM is a ‘one-stop shop’ or as they call it ‘Single Source Solution’ which enables them to offer products at a lower price. Being able to offer a high-quality product at a competitive price.  

 

Such innovation did not just helped businesses have good sales and profitability, but it also contributed to the safety of boating around NZ and brought confidence or complacency in people to enjoy boat rides. Learn more about the ‘FatCat Project’ here.  

What is the roto industry doing to support recycled plastics? 

Aside from innovations, the roto molding industry has been engaged in promoting sustainability and one of the notable projects is the ‘Recycle 4 Roto’ project.   

The ‘Recycle 4 Roto’ project is a program that focuses on recycling and aims to meet their ambitious goal of 3600T recycled material used by 2025 in Australia and NZ. Spearheaded by the Association of Rotational Moulders Australasia (ARMA), the R4R Program allows you to show support for how recycling and sustainability of rotomolded parts is upheld in the plastic industry. 

PSI Brand is a strong supporter and active campaigner for recycled plastics and so we partnered with ARMA to promote this goal through R4R Kits.  If you want to support Recycle4Roto program, you may find more information here. 

The branding graphics used in Kakapo Kayak and ‘FatCat Project’ are made by PSI Brand. If you need to know more information about branding graphics used, we will be pleased to assist!