Recycling Surfboards Rerip / Reduce – Reuse – Reride

We will now start to collect used and broken surfboards at our Sloat shop location (2830 Sloat Blvd) for the Re-Rip foundation.

Re-Rip Boards are collected and inventoried depending on their current state; unrideable and broken boards are used in recycling R&D efforts and by local artists to create unique art pieces; or being mulched to add as a filler in concrete- "Surfcrete".

Rideable boards are repaired and sold through Rerip’s online board shop. Some are given away to schools, non-profits, and people in need. We asked Tobias C. Schultz of Re-Rip and the founder of the Sustainable Surfing Coalition to give us a summary of the program.

"The mission of Rerip San Francisco is to design and implement solutions which improve the sustainability of the surfing world, focusing on our core practice on promoting the reuse and recycling of surfboards. By providing the best means for the reuse of surfing equipment; offering ideas and opportunities for recycling; spearheading sustainable solutions which are based upon critical analysis of social and environmental impacts; and by giving back to the local San Francsico community through education and fundraising; Rerip San Francisco is inspiring stakeholders and finding new ways to reduce waste and other practices which are harmful to the environment.

The Problem

The surfboard industry’s manufacturing ecosystem is flawed. The number of surfers worldwide has grown to approximately 23 million in the last 50 years (Future of Freedom Foundation, 2006). This exponential growth has created a multi-billion dollar industry, and as the population of surfers continues to grow, so do the number of surfboards that surfers own. Many avid surfers go through dozens of boards a year, the production and use of each one accounting for greenhouse gas emissions of as high as 450 lbs of CO2. These surfboards are made from resins containing toxic chemicals such as methyl ethyl ketone peroxide, and foam cores whose production requires the use of toxic diisocynates and benzene. These chemicals have known to cause cancer and other health problems in workers, and their use has led to plant closures by the US EPA. Today, surfboard production is shifting from local suppliers and shapers in the United States to overseas manufacturers in countries such as China and Thailand, where poor environmental regulation virtually guarantees these toxic chemicals will affect more workers, poison more environments, and lead to even larger greenhouse gas emissions (Surfboard Cradle-to-Grave, 2009 & 2011).

In San Francisco, a burgeoning surf culture means a rapidly increasing number of surfboards being used, at the same time local board production is very limited. This leads to a doubling-up of environmental impacts; imported surfboards with high associated production impacts, which have few places to go at the end of their lives but garages, backyards, and eventually, landfills. And with no viable surfboard recycling programs in place in the area, there is little or no way to mitigate all of these impacts for most surfboards. While surfing’s “dirty little secret” of problematic environmental impacts has been increasingly well known in recent years, Rerip San Francisco knows there are ways to tackle this hypocrisy, by taking advantage of every surfer’s desire for clean oceans and beaches. We believe that surfers have great potential to contribute to the sustainability of the world, if given the right information and opportunities.

The Solution

Rerip San Francisco aims to mitigate the industry’s production and end-of-life issues through two main programs:

1. First developing reuse and recycling options for discarded board materials in San Francisco, and eventually, the rest of the Bay Area. On a small scale in Southern California and in a nascent program in Hawai’i, Rerip has been able to divert hundreds of boards from the landfill through its recycling efforts, artist programs, R&D efforts, and through its online board shop. These efforts have helped prevent the use of toxic chemicals in surfboard production, and have mitigated the emission of tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

2. Rerip is working with the Sustainable Surfing Coalition with the aim of eventually aiding in the development of long-lasting design and process solutions for surfboard production. The Sustainable Surfing Colation, also HQ’ed in San Francisco, is researching the full environmental impacts of surfboard production in the Surfboard Cradle-to-Grave, and has also developed a set of Sustainable Surfboard Design Standards to aid board designers in reducing their impacts.
Rerip and the Sustainable Surfing Coalition have a long-standing relationship in which they have worked together to streamline surfboard recycling programs and improve the sustainability of surfing around the world.

The Facts About Surfboard Recycling (from the webpage of the Sustainable Surfing Coalition)
Surfboard recycling is an excellent way to reduce surf-related environmental impacts. By diverting surfboards from landfills, and into the hands of other people, environmental impacts will be avoided, at the same time you make another surfer stoked. You can expect to avoid the emission of up to 450 lbs of CO2 into the atmosphere for every surfboard you recycle.
To aid in the effort, just find a drop-off location near you; in San Francisco, Aqua Surf Shop is the pilot program. Ask at the desk and drop your board in the bin, and you’ll have done your part!

After drop-off, surfboards are collected and inventoried depending on their current state; unrideable and broken boards are used in recycled R&D efforts and by local artists to create unique art pieces; rideable boards are repaired before being donated or sold through Rerip’s online board shop. Rerip San Francisco expects to start operations collecting 10-20 boards per month from Aqua Surf Shop, with more locations (and boards) planned once viable storage options are secured.

There are several routes of donations which are done with surfboards once collected. Old boards are distributed them to charities and non-profits (such as Surfer’s Healing and Life Rolls On), or simply to groms in need. R&D focuses on exploring recycling options for surfboard materials, as well. Rerip San Francisco always gives the re-use of old surfboards a priority, as it is always best to re-use an old surfboard before it is recycled, as this takes fewer resources and will result in fewer environmental impacts."

RERIP Part I from on Vimeo.

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James January 18 2020

I have been researching this topic for awhile now. Im a surfer for 30+ years now and have never even heard a murmur of a recycling program. What first made me interested in this was cleaning out the garage and moving 8 or 10 surfboards back and forth. I give local kids in my neighborhood the ones I feel would suit them. I actually stripped and reshaped a sweet ride for my nephew! I live in central Fl. Is there any suggestions you might have for me to get this up and running in my community?

Rody October 19 2016


I was wondering: is it possible to re-shape a board to a smaller shape? Got a board which has a glassing problem and is full of spider-webs. However it’s far too big for me.

You think it’d be worth a try?

Thanks for the answer and keep up the good work

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