May 30, 2008: – – Rip Curl is proud to announce the success of their neoprene recycling project. Never again will this material – so valuable to surfers in cold waters – be treated as trash. Project Resurrection can now save old wetsuits and production off-cuts from a gruesome end (burial or incineration), by offering worn neoprene a second life: reincarnation as an espadrille or a pair of slaps.
In 2006, the world leader in the production of wetsuits, in partnership with the Conseil Régional d’Aquitaine, launched a research program into the recycling of neoprene. They wanted to find some kind of use for old wetsuits, and for the production off-cuts, which constitute about 150 tons of waste per year.
“Project Resurrection” Beanbags for the Surfrider Foundation
In July 2007, Rip Curl launched “Project Resurrection” by collecting wetsuits that had come to the end of their life. These collections took place on-site at the Rip Curl Pro Hossegor-Seignosse and in Rip Curl Pro Stores. More than 400 kilos of neoprene were collected in this way. Wetsuits which were still usable were given to young surfers in Morocco via Rip Curl Maroc.
A portion of the remaining neoprene was chopped up and used as filling for beanbags, whose outer-shells were made out of old Rip Curl event banners. These one-off, designer beanbags will be auctioned off on the Internet during the Rip Curl Pro WQS 6* this summer. The auction will be available on the event web site, and all the proceeds will be donated to the Surfrider Foundation.
The Basque Connection
At the same time, the research initiated in 2006 to find a large-scale recycling program was turning towards footwear, which offered sufficient volumes to absorb the amount of waste generated, as well as using materials that could integrate neoprene. At the beginning of 2007, after numerous attempts at coming up with the right formula, and plenty of resistance testing, a new material was created: “resurrection rubber”, a mixture of chopped neoprene (30%) and rubber.
This material is manufactured in France, and the search for a local product ended up in Mauleon, in the heart of the Basque Country, with the conception of the “must-have” item for summer ’08, the Resurrection Espadrille. With an organic cotton upper, printed with Öko-test certified ink, a sole made of “resurrection rubber”, and a limited distribution zone, the Resurrection Espadrille represents an excellent ecological end product, and stands out as a symbol for the Rip Curl Planet initiative.
A limited series of Resurrection Espadrilles will be sold from the end of June ’08 in Rip Curl Pro Stores, at the Rip Curl Boardmasters in England and the Rip Curl Pro Hossegor in France, at the price of 25 euros.
The Asian Connection
This technology was adopted by our Asian partners in 2007, with the goal of using all the neoprene off-cuts in the manufacture of slaps. All the off-cuts will now be transferred from our wetsuit factory to or slaps production site. This re-cycling allows us to avoid the treatment of 150 tons of waste, as well as replacing the same amount of raw materials. In the Summer ’09 Collection, there will be a total of 8 models of slaps, representing 10% of our range, which will use “resurrection rubber”. A fantastic result for a project, which is very close to our hearts here at Rip Curl.
The Collection Continues
In 2008, Rip Curl continues to collect old wetsuits. So don’t throw away those old leaky, cracked piles of neoprene, molding away at the back of your garage! Take your old wetsuit to one of the participating Rip Curl Pro Stores (Biarritz, Anglet, Hossegor, Bordeaux, Merignac, Brest, Paris, Marseille and Chamonix), and Rip Curl will re-cycle it.
And from the 15th of July to the 15th of December, Rip Curl will be giving away a “Project Resurrection t-shirt”, and a 25 € voucher (valid throughout the store from Octoberr 15 to December 15 when you spend more than 100 euros), with the purchase of a new wetsuit.