Traditional building methods and materials for standup paddleboards don’t exactly involve the lightest carbon footprint. But where eco-friendly SUPs once cost a fortune, sustainable manufacturing processes are becoming more widespread and prices for earth-friendly paddleboards are becoming more reasonable.
“The entire SUP community is starting to embrace sustainability in deep way,” says Sustainable Surf programs manager Brett Giddings. “The SUP category is one of the fastest growing categories of our ECOBOARD Project program, and we’re seeing SUP brands innovate with a range of recycled and plant-based materials.”
Here’s a handful of companies that are putting the planet first with sustainable practices to make boards you can feel good about riding.
Surftech joined Sustainable Surf’s ECOBOARD Project in 2018 and the brand has made a stack of eco-innovations, including the use of Sicomin GreenPoxy bio resin, with more than 25% plant-based content, producing purpose-molded EPS cores to reduce foam waste and creating their new BLOOM DeckPads made with algae from freshwater sources at high risk of algal blooms. Another exciting development for 2018 is the prAna x SURFTECH ultimate line of women's specific stand-up boards, paddles and accessories. Blending prAna's versatility and Surftech's art of technology, the new collection blends pleasing aesthetics with proprietary constructions and sustainability features for female paddlers.
"Surftech is very conscious about making products with 'environmentally-friendly' materials whenever possible. We are proud to partner with Sustainable Surf and join the ECOBOARD Project," says Dan Watts, Surftech's product director. "Our waterways are our playgrounds, so we will do everything we can to make a positive impact on our oceans, rivers and lakes."
The folks at Glide are constantly testing new products and processes in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint. They limit their consumption of fossil fuels, use sustainable resin, recycle their EPS foam to reduce waste, develop safe coatings and steer clear of harmful epoxy paints. The Glide factory is located a few short miles from their manufacturer, reducing their carbon footprint in shipping and allowing their supplier to pick up foam remnants to be recycled. No volatile organic compounds are used in their resins, but instead GSS and Entropy resin protects employees from airborne carcinogens and protects waterways by preventing toxic paints from entering them. Their entropy bio resin reduces CO2 emissions by 50 percent when compared with traditional polyester or epoxy resins, further protecting the planet.
2017 is a big year for Starboard as they are rising to the challenge of protecting our oceans through the innovation and quality of their products. New for 2017, all composite boards and fins are being made from with non-toxic, plant-based resins. Their paddles are constructed with earth-conscious bio resins and come with a trash-picker to easily scoop up trash from the waterways. Additionally, traction pads are being manufactured from recycled and plant-based materials. In addition to their products, packaging is made from bio-based and recycled materials and petroleum is avoided whenever possible. And for each board that is shipped, one mangrove will be planted in the Thor Heyerdahl Climate Park in Myanmar. The company’s environmental aspirations in 2017 prompted a partnership with Sustainable Surf, making Starboard the first SUP brand eligible to carry the ECOBOARD Project label on all its new models.
At Solace they are pushing the boundaries on materials, shapes, and design by using less plastic and sustainable materials whenever possible. Their products are made from three main materials: bamboo, hemp, and cork. Their boards are made from bamboo because it is sustainable, strong, and requires less resin and waste during the manufacturing process. They collaborated with Wave Tribe Surf to make the first ever hemp board bag that has proven to be durable while using less plastic to construct. Their traction pads are made from cork, an exceptionally sustainable material as it can be harvested with no negative effects on the tree. In addition to the sustainable construction of their boards, Solace is committed to supporting the community by donating their time to organizations such as the Surfrider Foundation, Maryland Coastal Bays Program, and Plastic Pollution Collation in an effort to further protect our planet.
Infinity SUP recently launched a line of eco-friendly boards with the hope of converting 100 percent of their boards to sustainable manufacturing practices in the future. They’ve invested in the Earth Technologies / H2Sup eco-manufacturing facility in Los Angeles that has been audited by Sustainable Surf and approved to build Gold Level ECOBOARDS. Their “Green Label” board line is made from zero-VOC resin called Super Sap and U.S. materials are used whenever possible to cut down on transportation emissions. In addition to the plant based resin, the boards are constructed from hemp, bamboo, and recycled wood. To top it off, 1 percent of proceeds are donated to environmental non-profits. To top it off, 1 percent of proceeds are donated to environmental non-profits.
Invert has a wide line of eco-friendly boards that follow an "Ecolicious" construction module. Ecolicious is Invert’s term for plant-based resins used in place of petroleum-based chemicals, responsibly harvested wood stringer and laminates are used to reduce fiberglass use, and recycled bioplastic leash plugs are used to reduce their overall carbon footprint. Manufactured in the United States, these high-performance boards are durable and light-weight, while being good for the planet.
BIC Sport has been in business for over 30 years and has a long history of sustainability. The manufacturing process for their sustainable watercraft involves a short production cycle and a short infra-red heating cycle, resulting in low energy consumption overall. They use a closed circuit cooling process for the molds and emit no gas and no solvents, resulting in zero pollution throughout the production process. In 2016, BIC Sport was designated as an Ecoride company for their implementation of environmental management systems company-wide—Ecoride is a tool that measures and determines the environmental efforts of companies in the boardsports industry. Additionally, the folks at BIC design, manufacture, and distribute a line of eco-friendly Earth SUP boards. The Earth SUP boards are made from a collection of bio-sourced, renewable, and/or recycled materials such as Flax fiber, Paulownia wood, and cork. They avoid the use of varnish and paint altogether and use a minimal amount of fiberglass.
By the end of 2017 90 percent of all NSP boards will proudly display Sustainable Surf's ECOBOARD Project logo, acknowledging the company’s focus and commitment to making more sustainable surf craft.
“The brand values of NSP, Nature – Science – Passion, are deeply embedded into every board, so the team jumped on the opportunity to work with Sustainable Surf,” says a spokesperson for NSP. “NSP has a track record in waste reduction and is an early industry adopter to reduce environmental impacts through the use of more sustainable materials and manufacturing processes without affecting the boards performance, durability or quality.”
NSP started using Sicomin GreenPoxy bio-resins in the 2017 range with more than 25 percent of the resins deriving from plant-based origin. For the 2018 Surf and SUP board range 90 percent of the board range will be using bio resin. The company has also been using coconut fiber in their patented Cocomat constructions since 2007, one of the industry’s first innovations to reduced the use of fiberglass and the shift to a readily renewable organic material. For 2018, this technology has been extended to include the production of Cocomat fins.
Written by Rebecca Parsons and Mike Misselwitz