Product, Service & Design Innovation
Bureo's Upcycled Skateboard Aims to Clean Up Chile's Waters

Last fall, we introduced a startup called Bureo Skateboards, which aimed to build skateboards from the tons of plastic waste littering Chile’s beaches and waters. Founders Ben Kneppers and David Stover detailed the company’s journey from the idea phase to a multi-faceted funding structure. At the time, the two friends were reluctant to release many specifics about their final product line, as it was still pre-production, but last month they got back in touch, ready to discuss their next phase.

Recently, Kneppers, Stover and their third partner and friend, Kevin Ahearn, launched a Kickstarter campaign to announce and fund production of Bureo’s first board, the Minnow. True to its name, the Minnow is shaped a bit like a fish with a custom split tail and a scale pattern on the deck, which is made from reclaimed fishing nets. To ensure a reliable supply of fishing nets, a dependable and dedicated workforce, and a positive impact on the environment, Bureo created the Net Positiva initiative.

Through the Net Positiva program, Bureo has partnered with local fishing communities in Chile to collect fishing nets from the ocean. Polymer-based fishing nets comprise an estimated 10 percent of all plastic ocean waste. This can be harmful to marine animals of all sizes. These nets are then transported to a local recycling center, processed, and pelletized in order to prepare them to become the deck of the skateboard. Each skateboard uses roughly 30 square feet of harvested fishing nets. Using these fishing nets results in a more than 70 percent reduction in greenhouse gases compared to the use of traditional plastic.

The upcycled deck isn’t the only sustainably sourced aspect of the skateboard. The custom made Satori wheels are 30 percent vegetable oil with 100 percent recycled cores. Through the Kickstarter project, Bureo is also offering a special edition skateboard made out of reclaimed wood. Furthermore, all aspects of the production process have been closely linked to the company’s roots in Chile. With locally sourced labor and materials, the Chilean communities and Bureo are truly supporting each other. To follow the work that Bureo is doing in Chile, Kneppers and Stover regularly update the Bureo blog and website with many of their inspirations and insights into the new project.

The Bureo team set a $25,000 goal in order to cover the final production costs, the cost of recycling the nets, and the initial component costs to take them down the last stretch of the first major production run for Bureo. With nine days left in the campaign, that goal that has almost been doubled; the boarding industry has always had a special link to the ocean and beach communities, and Bureo's crowdfunding success points to how the company's upcycled product idea resonates with the boarding community's inherent interest in ocean conservation. Now, there will be a great way to show that love for the environment with the most innovative deck on the market.

Bureo joins a growing list of companies helping to tackle the tons of fishing-net and other plastic waste littering oceans around the world — through initiatives such as Healthy Seas, companies are turning the discarded nets into everything from carpet tiles to socks and swimwear.

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