Leister Supports Sustainable “Flipflopi” Project

Success Stories1 May 2023

Sustainability and plastic welding are part of the Leister DNA. This is one of the reasons why we support the innovative “Flipflopi” project in Kenya with our know-how and assist in building the next sailing ship from 100% recycled plastic. Learn more in this blog post.

Author: Silke Landtwing, Corporate Communication Manager, Leister AG

If you read “Flipflopi” and think of summer, beach, sea and the matching footwear - colorful, comfortable plastic flip-flops - you're spot on. As long as the colorful, practical plastic slippers are on our feet, everything is fine.


However, when flip-flops end up in our oceans in vast quantities, joining plastic waste and washing up on the beaches, the fun stops. Because plastic pollution threatens our waters and everything that lives in them. And this pollution must be tackled.

Fortunately, most plastics can be recycled. That's how the idea was born to collect and recycle the plastic waste on Kenya's beaches to build the world's first sailing dhow* made from 100% recycled plastic. It is over nine meters long and weighs seven tons. A world premiere.

*For those who don't know: A dhow is a traditional type of sailing vessel found in the Red Sea, Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean.


Dhow is covered with 30 000 flip flops

For the dhow, the project team in Kenya collected ten tons of plastic waste on the East African coast and then recycled, shaped and carved it.


Constructed from the resulting plastic parts, the dhow is clad in 30,000 flip-flops, the most common item found during beach cleanups. Hence, the apt name "Flipflopi".

Circumnavigation Planned

And it goes on. The next dhow is already being planned. It will be 24 meters long and weigh around 50-60 tons. The aim is to sail it around the world and appeal to people everywhere to collect, recycle and reuse plastic waste.


First Welding Experience with WELDPLAST S2 from Leister

One of the engineers significantly involved in the project, Simon Scott-Harden from Northumbria University in Newcastle, approached Leister in January 2023 because he was looking for support in building the new dhow and had questions about plastic welding with Leister extruders. He had already gained initial experience with a Leister hand extruder, with which he was allowed to carry out test welds at the English Leister service and sales partner Welwyn Tool Group.


Plastics Welding Training at Leister Headquarters in Kaegiswil

On March 7, 2023, there was the first personal exchange at Leister headquarters in Kaegiswil. This meeting was all about plastic welding with Leister extruders. In the training room of the Leister Academy, Reto Britschgi first gave his two guests Simon Scott-Harden and Jonny Hayes (also from Northumbria University in Newcastle) the theoretical basics. This was followed by practical training, in which Reto demonstrated plastic welding with Leister extruders and Simon and Jonny carried out test welds on the plastic components they had brought with them under his guidance. This was done with the aim of Simon and Jonny sharing their knowledge with the project team in Kenya and instructing and supporting the team in the plastic welding work for the next dhow.


In the video you can see Simon while he talks about the new boat project and the hurdles of recycling the different plastics in Africa. This was followed by an exchange with Reto about the advantages and disadvantages of the materials. Especially the UV resistance of boats - that's why most plastic boats are black - is a challenge in boat building.


In this video, Rachid Benlakhouy, Sales Manager Leister International AG, talks about why he finds this project so interesting and why Leister is involved in it.

During their visit, Simon and Jonny took the opportunity to let Urs Zimmermann show them the Leister production in Sarnen.

We are already very excited to see what happens next and will keep you up to date on our social media channels and here on Leister-Stories.


Thanks to the Flipflopi Project Team

Thank you for the pictures and the great cooperation. We are very excited to support you in building your even bigger dhow and to be part of your innovative and challenging sustainability project.


More on the Flipflopi Project

Want to learn more about Flipflopi? Click here for the website.

Website Northumbria University Newcastle