Words: Damian Scott
Pics: Neptune SUPs/SUP Mag UK
We all love playing in and on the waters of this amazing planet but if we are not careful we will ruin it. With this in mind Neptune SUPS recently asked Carbon Balancing specialist “Go Balance” (www.go-balance.com) to carry out a life cycle assessment on SUP Boards and Paddles to see what impact making a SUP board has on the environment. The detailed report which they generated made Neptune make the decision to carbon balance their boards and paddles prior to them being sold – why?
The annual production of new SUP boards and surfboards, roughly 750,000 annually, creates around 220,000 tons of CO2e. The creation of polyurethane/EPS foam blank utilises processes that are not environmental friendly and contribute to the greenhouse gas emissions, and often employ Hydro-fluorocarbons, which are known to deplete the ozone, as the blowing agent or catalyst. The overall environmental impact of fiberglass is minimal compared to the resin and foam blanks used. Previous studies estimate that fiberglass accounts for 5% of the total carbon footprint in a SUP board. Resin used to laminate the fiberglass contributes for the 22% of a PU/PE board and for about 37% of an epoxy/EPS board. Surfboard manufacturing produces plenty of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and greenhouse gasses that are emitted into the atmosphere. Part of the problem also lies in the transportation of these boards – whether they are a finished product or not.
Many boards and board parts are made overseas and have to be transported to the US, Brazil, Australia and Europe. In addition the amount of travelling SUPers/surfers do to get to and from the water – anywhere from driving a car or truck to flying to even boating – have to be considered. The sad thing is that for a sport that boasts environmentally green credentials thousands of tons of greenhouse gas are made by the industry each year.
What can be done?
Many companies commence managing their environmental impacts by adjusting or implementing internal practices such as recycling, energy efficient policies, carbon footprinting and carbon offsetting. Some organisations then approach the issue of CSR (corporate social responsibility) separately and link with charities involved in bringing socio-economic benefits, animal welfare or the protection of nature.
What did Neptune do?
By having their footprint calculated Neptune SUPs has purchased carbon credits to offset their footprint and will continue to do so and encourage other companies to do the same, regardless of what they are making product wise.
What type of Carbon Credits did Neptune purchase?
They have supported the Trocano Araetama Conservation project by buying their Natural Capital Credits. This is a REDD+ project situated within the municipal boundaries of Borba, in the state of Amazonas, Brazil – www.trocanoproject.com/home/
The project covers an area of 1.3 million hectares and is inhabited by 105 communities, with a total population of 10,700 that are directly affected by the project activities benefiting them all in many ways. With water being the veins to these communities Neptune felt it was a great project for them to support. The project complies with the Natural Forest Standard (NFS), a voluntary carbon standard that integrates the social, biodiversity and carbon aspects of REDD+ projects.
As we move forwards in an increasingly populated world more and more services will be required that can potentially impact the environment in harmful ways. If we don’t act as businesses and individuals there might come a time then we can’t enjoy a precious resource like water and then where will we be? As ambassadors for a healthy and environmentally conscious lifestyle it’s out duty to make a difference and sort out the problems our planet faces now. We can’t undo damage already done but we can stop any more from happening if we all do our bit.
If all companies took the same approach (and some do) then the world would be in better shape and continue to be a fantastic playground future generations can enjoy.
To found out more about how you can become more carbon neutral head over to www.toolkit.bc.ca/cnlg/guide