How This Young Aussie Created the Planet’s Most Sustainable Surfboard

How this young Australian created the world’s most sustainable surfboard

This article is sponsored by HP.

A young Australian duo is making waves in the surfing world with their company Sine Surf, which produces wooden boards with a classic look and sophisticated technology that not only make them more than 95% biodegradable, but also carbon negative in production.

This is a pretty big deal considering the surprising environmental impact that surfboards have. According to a prominent study by the University of California Berkeley, the average surfboard causes 170 kg of CO2 emissions in the production process (Schultz 2009). Over its full life cycle, the carbon impact of a typical 2.5kg shortboard is 272.1kg of CO2 emitted. And that’s not even counting the 20 million boards sold worldwide each year that create 160,000 tons of plastic waste.

This is clearly not sustainable. When co-founder and surfer Emile Theau identified this major problem in surfboard production in 2020, he set out to make a beautiful wooden surfboard that is also sustainable and affordable. Many “wood” boards only have a veneer between fiberglass and foam inside, or are prohibitively expensive and heavy due to the materials used. But with a varsity degree in chemical engineering and nanotechnology, Theau, along with friend and co-founder Alastair Pilley, created a hollow wooden plank with insulated air chambers, making it virtually impervious to flooding – eliminating the need for polluting and toxic foam that can decompose up to last 500 years.

Best of all, the lightweight wood used comes from Paulownia trees, which absorb a significant amount of carbon. Even accounting for wood transport, power consumption and the use of a bio-resin, each panel sequesters at least 5.0kg more carbon than it produces. And the only non-biodegradable parts in the board are the fin boxes and bioresin – an impressive feat that also produces just 0.5kg of industrial waste per board. As a result, Sine Surf believes they make the most sustainable boards in the world.

But as Theau and Sine Surf think about expanding and developing boards for others as well, they needed help to continue to focus on sustainability and find new ways to reduce marine litter.

That’s why Theau took part in – and then won – HP Australia’s Generation Impact, a program in partnership with the Ocean Impact Organization to help Australians solve problems related to the impact of climate change on the oceans. Theau and Sine Surf won $40,000, HP laptops, and customized mentoring with HP and the organization to help the company grow. With this, the company was already able to buy new technologies for its manufacture and speed up the process without harming the environment.

This is just one way HP is supporting sustainability and cleaning up our oceans as the company uses £1.7 million and counts plastics from the sea in its products. Watch an interview with Theau below and visit Sine Surf for a look at his three board shapes on offer.

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