Tide is High for Repurposed Surfboards

A small surfboard shop in the “Surf Ghetto” in San Clemente, California is riding the wave toward more eco-friendly boards.

Despite the very big and serious focus on nature that surfing has, one of its biggest contradictions is the very boards they ride on. These boards are made of polyurethane foam, which is one of the most toxic materials around.

Surfers and ocean enthusiasts have long fought polluters, but now they’re bringing attention to their own backyard. This is where Green Foam Blanks comes in. Founded by Joey Stanley and Steve Cox, they have created what is considered the world’s first recycled polyurethane blank, the core of a surfboard. They collect trimmings from traditional surfboard companies, and using a proprietary process mix the virgin foam to create a blank that is 60 to 65 percent recycled waste.

This results in less production of polyurethane foam, which is manufactured using toluene diisocyanate, or TDI. This process also keeps the toxic trimmings out of landfills, where they never decompose and leach highly carcinogenic compounds into the earth and water.

Green Foam has sold about 1,000 surfboards and has been able to place them in the hands of well-known enthusiasts and professionals, such as Cameron Diaz and Jason Mraz.

Mr. Stanley created the idea for Green Foam after many years of not just surfing (he’s been on the Orange County coast all his life) but also working on the retail and marketing side of the business. His father owned a surfboard and foam factory, which is where he became familiar on a first-name basis with many of the industry insiders.

With the sudden closing of Clark Foam-- the leading manufacturer of polyurethane foam-- the industry became more open to new processes, like experimentation with less environmentally-damaging techniques.

Other surfboard makers are keen on Mr. Stanley’s idea and like working with reused materials, rather than opting for product destruction. The biggest benefit they see is being able to take advantage of the longevity of the main material and continuously make surfboards, rather than taking them to landfills.

Another innovation within the Surf Ghetto is Green Flex, a surfboard fin manufactured out of repurposed carpet melted into resin. These scraps could eventually be obtained through a junk removal service, and then processed to make them usable for said fins.

One challenge the “greening” of surfboards faces is the effectiveness of materials. Despite surfers affinity for environmental causes, they are also not willing to sacrifice performance. Polyurethane is the best material out there for this purpose, which is why Mr. Stanely and Mr. Cox’s process blends the best of both worlds and finds a happy medium. The pricing is also very competitive, the boards match up to their more toxic counterparts and have required virtually no change in the way shapers make boards.

The one downside, which is currently being addressed, is the high rate of defective blanks Green Foam Blanks makes. They also need to increase production. The company’s original manufacturer went out of business, so they are in the process of making their own blanks and pursuing licensing deals with other manufacturers.

Call us today! 1-800-865-9137