Stab Magazine | Welcome To The World’s First Zero-Waste Surfboard Factory

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Welcome To The World’s First Zero-Waste Surfboard Factory

The mealworms make all the difference!

hardware // Feb 23, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

A surfboard is a beautiful thing. Until it isn’t. The by-product and refuse from those flawless white blanks and delicate glass jobs ain’t nothin’ more than a toxic stew. And what the hell do you even do with a dead surfboard other than throw it away eventually?

Well, as they say, if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem…and Earth Technologies are pining to be part of the solution.

“We just dropped a bomb on the surf industry,” exclaimed owner Ryan Harris over in an email earlier this month. 

Harris was one of the first to demonstrate that surfboards could be built in a sustainable way a few years back, and now he’s upping the game. He’s dedicated themselves to operating the world’s first zero-waste surfboard factory.

Think about that for a second. Not some waste. Not a little bit of waste. Zero waste. Nada. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. No gross petro-chemical shit sloshing around into the landfills.

“There’s a way to do it, and we’re dedicated to seeing it through,” says Ryan via a follow-up phone call earlier this week. “It’s a something where the sport of surfing can really evolve, make a difference, and hopefully lead things in a new, more environmentally conscious direction.”

And so just how does a surfboard factory get to a point where they’re not producing any waste? Bugs. Mealworms more specifically. The boys have developed a “Living Earth System.” It works like this: all of the shaping dust, stringer and veneer off-cuts are carted to a farm where mealworms chow down. They crap out fresh, clean, organic soil, and hot damn, make the world a better place.

And for the stuff the mealworms can’t eat, they’ve developed a “Vacuum Infusion System.” All the factory trash is sorted and processed by two machines: an industrial shredder and a particle reducer. 

“Everything, from gloves, stir sticks, excess resin on floors, to brushes and squeegees is run through this process,” explains Ryan. “From there we’re able to turn our densified waste into usable products—things like key chains, coasters, fins and handplanes. 

Earth Tech has also implemented a board recycling program for old boards. Collecting busted up epoxy sticks, they strip the glass and grind it up in their Vacuum Infusion System. The blanks are then “upcycled” into new boards or handplanes. They even give store credit if you drop your old boards off, turning that beat old sled into something sexy and new.

The system is in place. The technology is there. And come hell or high water, Ryan and Kevin are going all in. But, to help offset some of their costs they just launched a Kickstarter Campaign called “Switch To Zero.” Should you feel so inclined, a few nickels in the tip jar would go a long way to making our world a better place.

“These are exciting times and we’re convinced that through this process surfboard building can be a lot cleaner process,” says Ryan. “Like I said, we’re doing his thing no matter what. We have to. We’re all in. But it would be awesome to have the support of other like-minded surfers out there.”


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