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Surfing can conjure up many images. The pristine blue ocean, feelings of peace and serenity as you paddle out back and the thrill of catching the perfect wave. One would think that such an activity would have no impact on the environment. I mean, all you do is float in the ocean on a board, not throw trash straight into turtles’ mouths.
Turns out the process of making your beloved surfboard can actually be quite toxic. Most surfboards are made with highly toxic polyurethane foam and fiberglass before being coated with an acrid polyester resin mixed with acetone. Raw.
Of course, like everything else in our modern, disposable world, it wasn’t always like this. Surfers were riding the waves on pieces of wood. Although these break down at the end of their life cycle, they are heavy enough to throw on top of your Kombi van.
So what should a surfer do?
Emile Theau, A graduate in chemical engineering and nanotechnology from the University of Sydney, he got into surfing when the pandemic started and discovered quite quickly how damaging the sport can be.
“I bought a new board and it broke in half. I became interested in how they were made and why they were so disposable. I was then intrigued by wooden surfboards,” says Emil.
“Although beautiful, these boards were very labor intensive and I wanted to use my engineering knowledge to reduce labor time and make the board available and affordable to more surfers.”
A man of the people.
Along with its co-founder, Alastair Pilley, the duo created Sine Surf. Made from lightweight paulownia wood, the surfboards use insulated air chambers. This makes flooding nearly impossible, eliminating the need for all that toxic foam and plastic.
The only non-biodegradable parts of the whole board are the fin boxes and the bio-resin. They even take into account the transport of wood and electricity. By producing 91% less plastic waste compared to the usual production of surfboards, it is a truly sustainable mission from start to surf.
“It’s an exaggeration to call them ‘more durable’ because you can still surf on a wooden board without a coating! We are probably the most durable products you can buy that always perform well. »
The duo’s drive to have a positive impact on the planet was furthered when they entered (and won) HP Australia’s Generation Impact. The program, created in partnership with Ocean Impact Organisation, helps Australians trying to address issues related to the impact of climate change on the ocean. Sine Surf won $40,000 (!!), HP laptops and bespoke mentorship with HP and the Ocean Impact Organization to help grow the business. Huge.
“HP brought us great expertise and relationships,” says Emile. “The money allowed us to buy much needed equipment and without it we would be in the red.”
Being a young start-up isn’t always easy, but doesn’t it warm your heart to hear about programs like The generation impact of HP Australia? A company that really wants to help make the world a better place through the power of technology? We like to see it.
So what would Emile say to others who came across an idea that would change the world?
“Just because something isn’t done by other people doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Look at the fundamentals and open your mind to the possibilities.