Expanded polystyrene foam, typically used for packaging and not much else, can be reborn into a new surfboard thanks to Waste to Waves.
Though summer’s warmth is winding down, some of us may still be able to take advantage of our favorite outdoor activities for a while longer. For those of us who are lucky enough to be near a body of water, water sports and activities might still be an option, particularly surfing.
For eco-friendly beach goers or those who are interested in taking up surfing, Waste to Waves is the perfect program to look into for aiding the environment while catching waves at the same time. Waste to Waves was created by Sustainable Surf, a California-based nonprofit charity organization that works to make surf culture and industry harmless for our oceans. There are a few steps for consumers to take to help keep the ocean clean with Waste to Waves.
Most electronics and furniture come protected by expanded polystyrene foam. EPS foam is not recyclable in most communities and therefore is usually thrown in the trash after being used. However, Waste to Waves gives consumers an opportunity to recycle this foam so it can be remade into new, useful products. The company accepts clean, white, #6 EPS foam, which is usually used to cushion large items. The program does not accept foam contaminated by food, foam “peanuts” or broken surfboards.
Those located in California that are interested in donating their EPS can search for a participating local surf shop. These places will have a collection box where consumers can drop the foam off. You can check out the list of shops participating in the program here.
After the stores collect the foam, it is picked up to be recycled and recreated into surfboard blanks, which is foam that is shaped into surfboards. Waste to Waves’ partner, Marko Foam, uses two methods to do this. One method is grinding up the EPS foam and mixing it with new foam to go into the surfboard mold and expand. Another method is packing the recycled foam into hard, plastic lumps and sending it off to be remanufactured. From here, this product can go on to be sold as a completely new but recycled and eco-friendly surfboard.
So far, Waste to Waves has been a major success. As of 2012, the program had collected such an overwhelming volume of foam that some of it had to be recycled to create EPS products other than surfboards. At the time, the program announced it would begin planning an expansion of its recycling system while making it more efficient.
Surfers can also make sure the next surfboard they buy is made from recycled EPS foam. Consumers should order a custom board, specifically a Marko “Enviro Foam” recycled foam blank. Many top manufacturers offer the Enviro Foam board, such as Channel Islands, Super Brand and Lost. Surfers who do this are eligible to proudly display the Waste to Waves logo on their board.
Waste to Waves helps limit the amount of plastic trash going into landfills and oceans, and using recycled EPS foam results in a 50+% reduction in lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions.
Our oceans should be kept clean and safe for surfers. So, when looking to purchase a surfboard, it is best to look for one that will help make this possible. Think Waste to Waves.