Sustainable Waves, a leading nonprofit organization in the surfing industry, is bringing their polystyrene foam recycling program to Hawaii during the Volcom Pipe Pro Surfing Competition this February. The program, called Waste to Waves, encourages individuals to turn in their unwanted polystyrene foam to be recycled and used in the production of new surfboards. While Polystyrene foam, commonly referred to as Styrofoam®, a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company, can be used in the manufacturing of surfboards, it also makes up many forms of packaging material, take-out containers and single-use foodservice items, all of which can be recycled.
Since its inception in 2011, the Waste to Waves program has collected nearly 40,000 pounds of disregarded polystyrene foam in California. While the ultimate goal for this program is to keep foam waste out of landfills, organizers also hope that they are able to educate individuals close to the surfing world about their ability to responsibly recycle foam products. Many surfers don’t realize that the same polystyrene foam used in packaging and foodservice items is the basic product used in the production of EPS surfboards blanks.
Several pro surfers are also proving that using boards made out of recycled foam waste is not only the responsible thing to do, but also allows for a great surfing session. Pro surfers Torrey Meister, Dylan Goodale and Mikala Jones all have boards made from recycled EPS surfboard blanks, and love the way they surf. Many shops can provide recycled polystyrene foam boards as an option to consumers; individuals should simply make this request.
Another organization that takes polystyrene foam waste and uses it in the manufacturing of new goods is Dart Container Corporation. Much like the efforts of the Waste to Waves campaign, Dart’s CARE (Cups Are REcyclable) Program specifically promotes the recycling of discarded foam. Although the company focuses on recycling single-use foam cups and does not supply material for producing surfboards, Dart recognizes the value of foam as a source for new products containing recycled content. Through Dart’s effort, program participants are provided with a densifying device to compress foam waste to a fraction of its original size, which is then purchased by manufacturers for use in the production of new consumer items such as crown molding and picture frames.