As surfing continues to gain popularity, more surfboards are being purchased, broken, and discarded each year.
Some retailers even offer free returns on their cheaply made surfboards, because they know that the overall number of boards that they sell is the most important key to their success—with very little concern about quality or the amount of waste they are creating.
As an interesting aside to that point, Devon Howard recently raised some noise about this exact issue in an instagram post featuring a broken blue foam board, that you have undoubtedly seen dozens of this Summer. One commenter raised a very interesting concern—and one that I hadn't considered—Hawaii received hundreds of these disposable foam surfboards each year, which inevitably break, leaving the islands with the ever-growing issue of finding room for the trash. This large warehouse-style retailer will gladly ship containers of boards to the islands, but Hawaii has to figure out what to do with them when they a deemed no longer useful.
There are really only two ways to keep boards from entering the landfill of broken and discarded surfboards:
1. You can build boards that last a long time, and are worth caring for and repairing for many decades....
2. Or, you can make a surfboard that will be recycled when it has lost its usefulness.
And I put emphasis "will be recycled" not simply "recyclable" because just because something is technically "recyclable" does not mean that the infrastructure exists to collect, process, and re-use those materials.
All EPS surfboard blanks are technically recyclable, but once it's been shaped down into a thin surfboard, wrapped semi-permanently in fiberglass cloth and resin, and glued up with plywood stringers, it becomes very difficult to process that recycling. The amount of virgin foam material that is able to be extracted and recycled on a typical EPS surfboard is minimal.
The subject of waste, recyclability, and the conversations around sustainabilty contributed heavily to our pursuit of the R-Series surfboard.
Because of the mold-injection manufacturing process, there is little-to-no waste at the manufacturing level. And because there is no fiberglass or resin involved, extracting the virgin foam for recycling is not only more realistic, but we actually have the capacity to process it, thanks to our manufacturing partners at Marko Foam.
This recycling bit is a piece of the story that we will get in to in greater detail in the coming weeks and months, but for now we truly want our customers to simply enjoy their R-Series surfboards.