Stab Magazine | What Do You Do With Your Old Wetsuits?

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What Do You Do With Your Old Wetsuits?

Here’s what you can do instead of letting them rot in your garage or launching them into landfill.

news // Aug 12, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

What do you currently do when your old and worthless suit reaches retirement age? 

Throw it in the trash? Let it decay in your garage? Or if you’re a little kinder, perhaps pass it down to a cashed-strapped friend or sibling?

Wetsuits aren’t recyclable in the standard sense.The majority on the market are made of petroleum based non-biodegradable materials.

They’re shit for the environment in the first place, but they’re even worse when you resign them to decomposing in landfill at a rate slower than Kelly’s foot rehabilitation process. 

You could reconfigure it into another product such as a laptop case, a stash for your fins, or even a summer springsuit, but most surfers are lazy and will just opt for the trash. 

So for the lazier of you out there, Rip Curl’s Torquay store is offering a recycling/upcycling service where you can retire your second skin to a more suitable and sustainable home.

“The initial motivations behind the rubber recycling program were and remain purely environmental.” Mimi LaMontagne, Rip Curl’s Communications manager told Stab about the program. “One of the cornerstones of our business is rubber, and we want to do everything we can to minimise the impact of that on the environment.” 

Suits of useable quality will be ‘upcycled’ through Surfing Victoria’s Indigenous outreach program, whereas those that’ve had their day will be broken down at a crumbling facility and turned into bitumen. It’s not exactly a graceful death for those torn up and wafer thin suits, but it’s a better gift to Mother Earth than letting them end up in landfill.

The program’s relatively new, but they’ve just shipped their first batch of suits and thongs (six full cages!) to be broken down and turned into bitumen at a facility in Melbourne. 

At this stage, the program’s only available at their Torquay store, which is acting as a test pilot to developing similar programs in other regions. 

“We definitely hope to branch out. The end goal is to eventually have a global rubber recycling program, where customers can bring their old rubber back to any RC retail store around the world. That’s obviously a huge undertaking,” Mimi continued, “Until we can expand we strongly encourage crew to pack up their rubber and put it in the post. But we will definitely keep everyone updated when we start expanding beyond Torquay”

Because the program is only available at Torquay, the Rip Curl store are also accepting postage of your old suits. Just ship them to Rip Curl Retail Store/Board Store 101 Surf Coast Hwy, Torquay, Vic, 3228.

Just write down whether you think your old wetty is suited to a new life shielding someone else’s skin, or whether its had its day and better off getting broken down into bitumen. 

Rip Curl’s rubber recycling program also accepts your old pair of flip-flops – whether they’ve had an irreparable blow-out or you’ve just upgraded to a newer pair. But that’s not where the efforts end in terms of re-utilising old rubber.

“We are also looking for different ways to use the crumbs in different regions of the world; Rip Curl USA is looking at using them as footbeds for thongs, Rip Curl Europe is looking at making car seat covers, and here in Australia we are looking at making it our office flooring.” Mimi said about other initiatives the brand is investigating.

The surf industry may not have adopted nor created sustainable (and suitable) methods for the production of most products we depend upon just yet, but hey, at least Rip Curl’s doing something about our methods of rubber disposal. 

So instead of letting that weathered heap of old suits fester in your garage any longer, post ’em down to Torquay, or better yet, use it as an excuse to plan a surf trip down to Vicco.

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