NPO Global Sports Alliance (GSA)
株式会社 エックスワン
2016.03.24 Thursday 13:48

The Environmental Impact of Surfing:Surfboards

The Environmental Impact of Surfing:Surfboards

Carbon footprinting is the process of understanding the  greenhouse gases and environmental impact created from  the manufacturing of a product. It is measured from its  birth to disposal or ‘Cradle to Grave’.  This process can be applied to surfboards by understanding  the production and life cycle of a surfboard.

The Life of a Surfboard 
i) Extraction of raw materials The oil used to make the resin and fins needs to be drilled  out of the earth and wood for the stringer has to be grown  and harvested.
ii) Processing Turning the oil into plastic requires energy and other resources.  The wood needs to be debarked and cut into strips for the stringer  or rails which requires energy.
iii) Manufacture Once the constituent chemicals have been made the foams can be  manufactured with requires even more energy and consumables.
iv) Transportation Between each stage the raw materials, processed chemicals or  manufactured products have to be transported creating carbon.
v) Shaping Once each constituent part has reached the shaper more energy and  consumables are used to make the finished surfboard.
vi) Repair & Maintenance During its life a surfboard becomes damaged and needs repairing and  fin plugs replacing, or new fins purchased which creates a further  carbon impact. vii) Disposal. Most surfers keep a surfboard for as long as possible but eventually  the surfboard can no longer be used so has to be recycle for another  purpose, e.g. wall art in a bar or goes to landfill. The annual production of new surfboards, roughly 750,000, creates  around 220,000Tons of CO2e. The trend for surfers to go green has become evident in boardies &  wetties. Surfers are demanding environmentally friendly products.  Because of this, many companies claim their products are green,  but they never advertise an exact carbon footprint value.  This makes it difficult for consumers to compare their options. For example an epoxy surfboard has a larger carbon footprint than a  polyester based resin surfboard of the same shape.  Many surfers believe an epoxy surfboard will last longer, so it is more environmentally friendly in the long run, but there are a lot  of variables to account for. Fortunately, there are some ways that shapers and surfers can reduce  the carbon footprints of surfboards.

Surfers 1) Order a sturdy board, make sure it has enough layers of fiberglass to  support your weight and the type of wave you surf, 
2) Add in more fin plugs, go for 5 fins making your board adaptable to  different waves rather than having two.
3) If a board gets dinged repair it ASAP, so less damage can occur.
4) Buy and trade second-hand surfboards reducing the number of unused board. 
5) Surf your board untill it is completely unrideable as a surfboard then  turn it into something else.  You can try snow/dune surfing or practice your repairs on it. 
6) You can also consider carbon offsetting your surfboard.  To do this, you reduce your carbon impact in another area of your life  to help make up for the impact of your surfboard. 

Shapers 1) Use deck channels to strengthen your surfboards so they last longer.
2) Use sustainable alternatives like plant based resins, recycled foams  and bio-plastic based fin plugs.  By using a plant based polyester resin shapers could save up to 73,000  Tons of CO2/year
3) Use renewable on site energy production, like solar panels and wind turbines. 

Reducing the carbon impact of your surfboard is actually pretty easy, but it takes both shapers and surfers to make a positive environmental change.  If we all work together, we can reduce the carbon impact of surfing  and set an example for other sports. Rick Lomax BSc Hons and AIEMA


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