It’s ironic and ultimately frustrating that so much of the gear we need to explore and take on the outdoors is made from materials that are damaging to our planet. One of those bits of gear is the wetsuit.
The vast majority of wetsuits are made from non-renewable rubber or limestone resources. The production of such materials creates high levels of pollution dangerous to wildlife and people. Then, when a wetsuit has surfed its last wave, there’s no clear end of life solution. Because of the complex structure of neoprene, wetsuits are nearly impossible to recycle and get stuck in landfill. Globally, an estimated 8,380 tonnes of old wetsuits end up there each year.
UK-based outdoors brand Finisterre is on a mission to change this. This month, it will take any wetsuit from any brand, in any condition and recycle it into new products. And anyone who hands over their wetsuit will get 20 percent off their next purchase.
Circular Flow, based on the other side of the country from Finisterre, has developed a process that enables it to repurpose 100 percent of the returned neoprene wetsuits. The process bonds the particles from the shredded wetsuits without removing the textile laminate. It can then produce a durable recycled material that is being used to manufacture new accessories. No waste is generated: zips and all are recycled, and given new lives.
As a way of tackling the problem at the source, Finisterre has also converted its whole wetsuit range to Yulex Pure®, a natural and renewable source of rubber that produces 80% less carbon dioxide and uses ten times less water in production than traditional neoprene.
In a statement on its website, Tom Kay, founder of Finisterre said: “There have been great advances in eco wetsuits and the search for alternatives to petroleum-based neoprene, but the real elephant in the room for the water-sports industry is what to do with a wetsuit at the end of its functional life.”
Finisterre is taking on that elephant now.
Find out how to post or drop off your old wetsuit on the Finisterre site.