Since the 1950s, more than 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste have been generated. Every single piece of this waste still exists today, as the diverse material has an estimated degradation period of 500 years. It has now been found polluting almost all areas of our planet, from the summit of Mount Everest to the bottom of the ocean’s deepest trench.
The environment suffers at every stage of the plastic lifecycle. Oil spills from burst pipes or leaks during the extraction of petroleum, the release of plastic pellets (known as nurdles) from factories and during transportation, microplastics and plastic fibres released from items such as tires and synthetic clothing during their lifetime, and then the obvious pollution of our natural environment from single-use plastic (and other plastics) at the end of its life.
As a producer of plastic-based products, it is Starboard’s responsibility to find alternative materials for our boards and accessories; reduce any unnecessary plastic use; offset our plastic footprint through our POP initiative, and spread the word throughout our network. We also need to work with the marine industry to find functional end-of-product life solutions. We started to move away from single-use plastic packaging in 2017 and pick up 1.1 kg of ocean/beach plastic per board sold, the average annual ocean plastic pollution per person. Although in 2023 we are upping this number to 1.4 kg, following the dreary trend of exponentially increasing ocean plastics.
Concerning SOMWR apparel, for all items, we pick up at least the same amount of beach/ ocean plastic as the weight of the item and for selected SOMWR items we remove 1.4 kg. The collection area is the ocean and up onto beaches as far as the water moves on high tide. Our first area of engagement was the Chonburi region in Thailand. We are now developing a series of new chapters in Thailand and also moving into Myanmar and Indonesia as we plan to scale our programs in line with the growth of SOMWR apparel.
“I am fed up with the human ignorance concerning single-use plastics and will dedicate the rest of my life to fight that and climate change, in ways possible within my reach!”
— Svein Rasmussen, Chief Innovator at Starboard and former Windsurfing World Champion.