In 2010, three surfer friends had a great idea that is as beneficial for the planet as it is for the fishing industry: recycle fishing nets to make skateboards.
"Short circuit recycling for abandoned fishing nets to protect Chile's marine fauna and flora."For Americans David Stover, Ben Kneppers and Kevin Ahearn, who spent their teenage years on their surfboards on the Pacific Rim, ocean preservation is a priority. In 2010, Ben the sustainable development consultant, David the mechanical engineer and Kevin the designer came up with the idea of a circular economy project: make skateboard boards by collecting some of the many fishing nets abandoned in the oceans. The California State Coastal Conservancy estimates that 10% of global marine pollution is due to the 64,000 tonnes of nets lost in the seas – a huge problem.
Three years later, the Californian trio was asked by Chile to go to Cocholgüe, a fishing village in the center of the country, and develop their business there – they called it Bureo ("waves" in Mapuche, the language of the indigenous people of Chile). With 4,270 km of coastline, Chile is the seventh largest fishing region in the world, and the sea is a significant source of revenue for the local economy. The Chilean coastline also hosts one of the most productive marine ecosystems in the world - an ecosystem that obviously needs to be protected.
Bureo's idea is to favor a short circuit for recycling abandoned fishing nets and so protect the country's marine fauna and flora.
The young company set up the Net Positiva program, which has a network of twenty fishing net collection points throughout the country.
The company has collected 80 tonnes of nets since it went into business. The nets are cleaned, shredded and then placed in a granule-making machine, which produces small balls of material then pressed in Santiago de Chile in a steel mold. It takes 3 m2 of nets to make one skateboard. Compared to the production of traditional skateboards, the method reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 70%. The wheels are 30% vegetable oil and have a 100% recycled mechanism. Once finalized, the boards in the shape of long fish with colored scales sell for between 130 and 200 dollars. "From the sea to the street" is the "mantra" of the company, which is now based in Santiago de Chile and Ventura in California.
3 m2 of nets for one skateboard
Today, Bureo is looking even further ahead. Ben, David and Kevin have decided to expand their product range by also producing surfboard fins made from recycled fishing nets. In addition, they recently signed an agreement with the well-known Carver board brand to produce their sustainable skateboards on a larger scale. A good thing, as David Stover explains: "Right now, we have so many fishing nets we don’t know what to do with them all. If the raw material ends up in short supply, we will have achieved our goal. "
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