Italy is a country with over 7500km (4723 miles) of coastline. It’s no surprise that it has some serious shipping pedigree. With ferry connections to Albania, Greece and even Barcelona, Spain, Italy’s relationship with the sea is strong.

In the past, Italy’s heritage was around its massive boatbuilding ports: boats that would make up hardy ferries and military vessels. Today, Italy holds over 50 percent of the market share for luxury boat building and pleasure yachts, and that figure is set to rise. Livorno is home to one of the largest luxury yacht makers in the world, Azimut-Benetti, which builds boats using decades of experience in craftsmanship, creativity and innovation.

Italy's luxury yacht sector is well known, but less celebrated are the strides some of the world’s oldest brands are taking to create change. Luxury boats and pleasure craft can often be unsustainable. For one, yachts are usually non-essential items, unlike cars which are often performing a function or journey.

Italy’s boat export rate is also skyrocketing, rising to 86 percent in 2021. Alongside this, however, is an understanding that market growth doesn’t come without environmental responsibility, especially given this year's damning IPCC report calling for solutions to address the climate crisis, and fast.

The words ‘sustainable yacht’ don’t sound like they belong in the same sentence. And yet, the IPCC report has called for adaptation, and superyachts aren’t going anywhere, boatbuilders are doing what they can to become more energy efficient and less polluting, and Italy is taking this onboard.

There are plenty of ways change can be achieved without changing the ship’s design.


One of Italy’s leading yacht manufacturers, Benetti, has designed a 37-metre, five floor ship that gives owners the option to install a hybrid propulsion engine, rather than all diesel. The yacht can sail in an Eco-Cruise mode which releases zero emissions: when in this mode, the charged-by-solar batteries supply energy to the electric motors.

A spokesperson for Benetti said: “The market is beginning to show a significant interest and sensitivity around sustainability. At the beginning we focused our research in reducing the fuel consumption of our yachts: in 2005 Benetti launched Ambrosia 65M, the first yacht with an ABB's Azipod diesel-electric propulsion system, and after this we started reducing the hydrodynamic resistance and lightening the structure using carbon fibre, which generates lower consumption. Benetti’s pioneering approach to sustainability reaches its peak with B.Yond 37M, the greenest yacht in its category.”

Benetti also supports the UK-based charity Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE), which protects oceans. Yacht buyers can either donate annually to the foundation, or give a percentage of the purchase price to the foundation.

Other brands, such as Amer, have embedded their own sustainability strategy. Barbara Amerio, CEO and sustainability director of Amer Yachts, understands the importance of innovation. Amer Yachts, based in Portosole near San Remo, was founded in 1970 by her father, and now has the slogan – “respect the sea, respect yourself.”

She talks about the importance of mixing traditional materials with newer ones that have a lower environmental impact. “All of our boats are fitted with eco-leather and cork as standard. For interiors, cork is the most sustainable option, and it’s our favourite – for interiors we use re-generate teak coming from old colonial houses in Java, while we use natural fibres or coconut fibres instead of synthetic ones to decorate the interior.”

Amer is committed to improving sustainability with their yachts. Biocomposites are one of the ways ships can make the boat’s bodywork recyclable. “We’re in the second round of tests at the moment, but it will take several years of research. However, we’re on the journey now. Currently, we’re working with Arkema and GS4C to develop a composite made of basalt, bioresin and pet core in order to replace the traditional material. This will become recyclable. We plan to share the next round of results at Monaco Boat Energy Challenge in July 2022.”

Amer Yachts have also been working with Superfici, an Italian 3D modeling startup. In 2020 Superfici used corn bioplastic to build the engine’s air outlet on the Amer 94 Twin.

For Italian shipbuilders who respect and love the sea, it’s clear a big priority for them is protecting the ocean. And it’s not just big luxury yachts that are making strides in this space. The world’s first ever eco-sustainable dinghy, ecoPrimus, has been founded by three sailors, Fabio Bignolini, Piernicola Paoletti, and Andrea Paduano. The boat is built using 100 percent natural fibres, and biodegradable resins, designed in this way to avoid the pile-up of old and non-biodegradable fibreglass often found in boatyards, or a trip to the heavily polluting plastics incinerator. At the end of its life, the ‘ecoOptimist’ is around 90 percent fully recyclable.


The three founders have a long history of sailing, and Bignolini remembers the moment the idea was conceived. ”I was talking with our designer Matteo Polli and we were discussing the possibility of building an innovative boat in terms of lines and materials; to understand if it was feasible I presented the project to Andrea Paduano, who later became one of the founders, and we said let's try!

“I believe the passion for sustainability is natural for those who go to sea; moreover, a large part of the design team had a university course where they started working with these natural materials and developed a real passion for this construction philosophy.”

Bignolini is optimistic about the future of sustainability start ups in Italy. “We believe that the future will be all about sustainability in its various facets and sectors; it is a truly stimulating topic and it is a challenge that we hope will inspire other young people to launch new projects and startups in the Italian market.”

Paid and Presented by


Once you choose IT, you never leave IT!
Discover Made in Italy through nine narratives about the key Italian supply chains and services, a detailed foray into why Italy is the go-to choice for investors and buyers across the world: a mix of innovation, high-quality materials, know-how and sustainability.

Experience it