Three friends, all avid surfers, grew tired of riding through plastic waste during their dawn patrol sets in Australia. After numerous late night sessions brainstorming what they could do about it with no success, a move to Chile for one of the group led to an answer — skateboards.
When Bureo co-founder Ben Kneppers relocated to Chile, the government was actively looking to fund sustainable startups. After conducting endless hours of research on plastic pollution in the ocean, Kneppers realized that discarded fishing nets account for 10% of this waste. He wondered why not pay local fishermen to harvest plastic waste and transform it into something people would buy.
He called up his two buddies David Stover and Kevin Ahearn, and together they founded Net Positiva, a fish net collection and recycling program that would serve as the supplier to Bureo, their skateboard company. Within six months, more than 6,600 pounds of abandoned fishing nets were collected and last year, Net Positiva salvaged more than 185,000 pounds of nets from the ocean with operations in dozens of villages throughout Chile.
Once collected, the nets are washed and prepared for a mechanical recycling process. Within this process, they are shredded and fed through a ‘pelletizer’, where they are melted and cut into small recycled pellets. These pellets are then injected into steel molds to form Bureo’s various products.
Made in both California and Chile, each skateboard saves 30 to 50 square feet of fishing net from clogging up the ocean. The skateboards come in two styles — the Ahi ($195), a 27 inch performance cruiser, and the original Minnow ($129), a 25 inch cruiser.
Bureo hopes that skateboards are just the start for them. The company now makes sunglasses, surf fins, Frisbees, and even Jenga game sets. Patagonia was so impressed with the work that both Bureo and Net Positiva are doing that they invested in the company as part of Tin Shed Ventures.