The beach, bright sun and many surfers in the water… the waves are perfect for drop-offs and all the maneuvers that surfers practice. Surf is a sport practiced all over the world. In this fantastic interaction between man and nature, it is difficult to imagine, but more than 400 thousand surfboards are produced and sold around the world every year. What few people know is that boards have a useful life. You heard it. After many waves, the board lose speed, precision and firmness. So they need to be replaced; and where do they go? Just as the whole problem of waste that we witness and live today, it isn’t any different with surfboards. Where are we going with this? Let’s understand how boards are made to know the impacts of this chain. The first surfboards were made by the Hawaiians and were made of wood from trees typical of islands in the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii, for example. However, with the demand and evolution of the sport, new lighter and more resistant materials have been developed over the years. The boards are basically composed of the shape or core (which may be polyurethane or expanded polystyrene), fiberglass and resin. In some cases, a wooden stringer is placed in the centre of the board to increase strength and stiffness. During the manufacturing process, wastes of about 50 to 70% are generated.
The model of surfboard production is not unlike any other model of linear production: extract, produce and discard; and just like various products and materials that are produced under this model, the boards also go to dumps and take many years to decompose.
The circular economy aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest level of utility, and value, all the time. Through re-design, for example, products can be made to last longer. This economic model, the rethinking of consumption, is alined with good methods to use materials. Through the CE100 Network of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Santa Luzia can accelerate its ambitions based on this new economic model. Through the concept of products that are designed to last longer and through the use of recycled and recyclable materials we are one of the few companies that have this systemic thinking based on circularity.
For more than 15 years, Santa Luzia has transformed its business model: it changed about 98% of its raw material source. What used to be wood, is now recycled polystyrene. With that, Santa Luzia has already recycled more than 60 million pounds of polystyrene from a wide variety of origins: pre-consumption (processing industry) and post-consumption in the form of packaging, disposables, insulation panels and surfing!
The basis of Santa Luzia’s business model is the circular economy. By recycling waste like polystyrene, we are the solution to the waste problem of various companies and other discarders. In addition to that, we work with several waste collector cooperatives generating many indirect jobs, contributing to the income of several families.
The recycling of polystyrene from surfboards is already a reality in Santa Luzia and we can improve this scenario. With this residue, we manufacture coverings and moldings for mirrors and thus, we divert thousands of pounds of polyurethane waste from landfills. We are one of the few companies in the world to recycle this type of material!
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