The Greener Way To Make Surfboards

May 16, 2009

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Surfing and nature seem to go hand in hand. The crashing waves, the fresh sea air and the reliance on mother nature for good surf, all suggest that this is the most wholesome of extreme sports. It has come to the attention of many environmentalists however that all is not what it seems. In actual fact, the production of surfboards has many negative effects on both the environment and peoples health.

Most surfboards these days are formed from a core of polyurethane foam. This is then covered by a layer or two of fibre glass and then coated in a protective polyester resin. The foam usually includes a chemical known as toluene diisocyanate, which is considered by many to be a carcinogen. Styrene fumes can also be emitted during its production and exposure to styrene can cause headaches, nausea and malfunctioning of the nervous system according to health officials. Additionally, carbon dioxide and VOCs (volatile organic components) are released into the atmosphere during production. The majority of surfboard materials are also not biodegradable.

There has been so much attention on the harmful nature of surfboard production that a Californian company, run by Gordon Clark, who make blank boards recently shut down. 85 percent of all blanks came out of Clark’s factory at one point but when State of California leaned on him heavily it was the last straw and he made the decision to shut down the equipment for good. This had led to the predicted shortage of pre-shaped surfboards in the States and so many big companies are in desperate need of alternatives.

Incredibly, one of these alternatives has been found in England, in the county of Cornwall. The new substance Biofoam was developed with help from the Surfers Against Sewage charity. Its fifty percent plant-based compound ensures that thirty percent less toxins are produced during its creation and it is a whopping sixty percent more renewable. On top of this, a new 95 percent natural resin coating is now being used on their ‘Ecoboards’.

The interest in Ecoboards and the new Biofoam is truly global, with many big companies expressing an interest. It is still early days but they soon hope to start applying their eco-technology to the manufacturing of snowboards also.


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