Investigating the potential circularity of a motorboat using Life Cycle Assessment

Circular economy business models commonly target ways to close resource loops for a product or system. Life cycle assessment (LCA) can be used to assess if the actions also imply other environmental benefits. This report is one of two case studies and utilises a motorboat as a case (another report examines a smartphone).  First, the linear product is assessed to determine hotspots in the life cycle. From these results, three circular business models targeting several circular solutions were chosen and assessed using LCA.


This report presents a life cycle assessment (LCA) case study of a motorboat. The work is part of the POLICIA project where the overarching goal is to combine LCA and an economic-based model (POLICA CE model) into an integrated assessment. The aim of this model is to identify market failures and quantify policy effects of efficient combinations along the entire life cycle.

The objective of the motorboat case study work is to enable the impact assessment of the LCA, to be incorporated into the POLICIA CE-model, so that environmental impacts of policies can be directly modelled and optimised. To achieve this, linear and circular variants of products were assessed to identify the key factors and life cycle stages that influence the environmental impact.  

It was found that the use phase dominated the linear version of the life cycle for all studied impact categories, due to the use of fossil fuels and anti-fouling paint. It is shown that circular business models aimed at boat electrification can provide the largest impact reductions. Whilst fossil fuels remain the primary source of boat propulsion, prolonging the boat’s life, or focussing on recycling of boat materials, will not provide a significant reduction in environmental impact. This is because the use phase and its associated pollution of water and air dominates the boat’s life cycle. 

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