Brazil turning surf boards into sustainable products

Surfing is such a magical sport... but as it transformed into an industry through the years, it has fallen apart from its natural origins. Nowadays, boards have become an awfully environment unfriendly product, as they are made with several kinds of chemicals and polymers. Fortunately, not all is lost: a Brazilian surfer and environment engineer has found some ways to make them a sustainable product.
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In its Polynesian origins, surf was practiced on wood surfboards that naturally degraded and didn't harm the water. But as technology and materials evolved, so did the professional surf industry, which demanded lighter and more practical boards. From wood to polyurethane foam, polyester resin, glass fiber and other chemicals like cobalt and pigments, waste resulting of these materials are highly harmful to the soil and aquatic beings, and if not treated properly, very dangerous to the human health.

In Brazil, near 50,000 surf boards are made every year, resulting in more than 380 tons of toxic substances. One of the biggest problems is that these materials have low density, but occupy lots of space.

Paulo Eduardo Antunes Grijó's project -Mabras et Mundi (Associative Movement of Brazilian Recycling in Surf and in the World)- consists in minimizing the consumption of water, electric energy and the waste production in the manufacturing of the boards and the creation of methods to recover the residues. Also, to maximize the life of non renewable resources by transforming them into second hand commodities: for example, it is possible to blend the residues to produce panels for thermo acoustic isolation, widely used in the construction industry, or pulverize and mix them with virgin polyurethane resins to make a blend of recycled polyurethane which could be used in the production of recycled surf boards. Other forms of recovery are also being studied.

The aim of the initiative is to promote environmental education among the surf industry. Surfers always take care of beaches, but this kind of information is not well known. And like the surfers need the waves to survive, the beaches need surfers that take care of them [by Paula Alvarado, from Buenos Aires].
See also ::Bamboo Surfboards and ::The Surfer's Path