This young company proves how unnecessary virgin materials are when we've got an ocean full of plastic that can be recycled.
In 2013, three friends from California were shocked to discover how much plastic waste exists in the ocean. They were particularly concerned about rogue fishing nets, which represent 10 percent of ocean plastic waste and are detrimental to sea life, frequently snagging and suffocating animals.
The friends came up with an idea to gather discarded fishing nets from coastal communities in Chile, a country with a rugged, undeveloped coastline where they love to surf, and convert them into skateboards. Their company Bureo was born, and since then, has rescued and recycled 168,840 square feet of fishing net.
Bureo’s skateboards use between 30 and 50 square feet of fishing net. The old nets are gathered and cleaned by local partners, then taken to a factory for mechanical shredding. They are melted and turned into plastic pellets, at which point they are no different from virgin pellets. These are injected into a mold to form high-quality skateboards and, now, sunglasses, too.
The skateboards are manufactured in Chile or California, depending on the model. They feature ECOthane wheels, which contain 30 percent soybean oil to reduce the amount of petroleum required.
Bureo, whose name means “waves” in the native Mapuche language, is doing great work. Although they’re not getting rid of any plastic, its conversion to a skateboard or pair of sunglasses puts it in a more condensed and stable form, far less dangerous to the environment than when it was a fishing net drifting through the ocean. It also reduces demand for virgin material.
These plastics must be pulled from the sea, and doing so will spread awareness about the risks of abandoning nets. In a 2015 video about the company’s mission, one of the founders said:
“The issue that we’re running into is that plastic is such an abundant resource acquired at such a low cost that it doesn’t add up. The environmental cost the plastic has on the world is much higher than what people pay for it. It’s a system that’s out of balance.”
You can buy Bureo’s skateboards, sunglasses, and organic cotton clothing online.