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Jane Pankhurst, Senior Commercial and Business Programmes Manager (KTP)

Sophie O'Callaghan, Commercial and Business Programmes Manager (KTP)

 

Developing recyclable wetsuits with Finisterre

There are more than 500,000 surfers in the United Kingdom who, on average, will replace their wetsuits once every two years. The result of this? The equivalent of more than thirty London double decker buses being discarded every year. Three hundred and eighty tonnes of non-biodegradable chemical-based waste, every single year.

As committed surfers, we all have a stack of old suits laying around somewhere. Whilst there are initiatives that exist around the down-cycling of old wetsuits, yoga mats and beer koozies fall short of producing a real solution.

To address this problem and realising that it is a very specialist area, Finisterre  approached the University of Exeter Centre for Alternative Materials and Remanufacturing (CALMARE). Through a two year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Finisterre has since appointed a full time Wetsuit Recycler, Jenny Banks, to work with Professor Oana Ghita and the staff at CALMARE looking at neoprene degradation and investigating re-manufacturing and circular economy initiatives.

To find out more about the project, visit Finisterre's #WetsuitsFromWetsuits website.

There have been some great advances in eco wetsuits and the search for alternatives to petroleum based neoprene, but the real elephant in the room for the watersports industry is what to do with a wetsuit at the end of its functional life.

It’s a massive, global problem that we need to address; in this day and age there has to be a solution, and this is what we’re committed to finding. In the UK alone, surfers are replacing their suits on average every two years, with no real idea what to do with their old suits.

Tom Kay, Founder, Finisterre