Torquay-born recycling program hopes for global reach

June 11, 2021 BY

Environmental social governance manager at Rip Curl Shasta O'Loughlin is encouraging local surfers to give their old wetsuits a second life. Photos: ANDY ROGERS

RIP Curl has global aspirations following the launch of its new Wetsuit Take Back Recycling Program.

After first taking place in Torquay three years ago on a community scale, the program has now partnered with global recycling leader TerraCycle.

Environmental social governance manager at Rip Curl Shasta O’Loughlin said the partnership would expand their previous work to repurpose the rubber from old wetsuits.

“We basically managed a program just out of Torquay last time with an external facility,” she said.

“The response was overwhelming, and the demand was clearly there.

“Because we want to make it Australia-wide and possibly global we needed to partner with someone who could help us with the amount of wetsuits we could potentially get.”

The new partnership encourages surfers from across the country to recycle any surf branded wetsuit at participating stores in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.

The recycled rubber is set to be transformed into safety attenuation layers for soft fall matting used at playgrounds and gyms.

“One of our core values at Rip Curl is ‘community’ and ‘environment’, and with this in mind we have spent over three years developing the most effective and environmentally conscious solution for wetsuit recycling available in Australia today,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

“TerraCycle has a huge network and were able to assist us in finding the best possible solution for recycling used wetsuit neoprene.

“We are really excited about this partnership, and the reach that it can provide across Australia.

“Once the program has proven itself here at home, we are excited to explore a global expansion to give all surfers the opportunity to recycle their old wetsuits.”

Aiming to change how the world shops, TerraCycle is eliminating waste across 21 countries turning “hard-to-recycle” materials into new products.

General manager of TerraCycle Australia and New Zealand, Jean Balliard, said the new partnership with Rip Curl was an exciting opportunity.

“The program was a great way to support sustainably-minded consumers,” she said.

“Rip Curl understands its consumers care deeply about the ocean and the preservation of the planet.

“By partnering with them on this program, we’re able to ensure that wetsuits returned through the recycling program will be saved from landfill and given a second life.”

In Victoria surfers will be able to donate any surf branded wetsuit – not including booties, gloves, hoods or heavy diving dry suits – to the Torquay and Sorrento stores.

Along with the national expansion, Ms O’Loughlin said the partnership with TerraCycle is the next big step in this space.

“Rip Curl creates products for surfers, by surfers, and we want to ensure we extend the life of those products and repurpose them into a second commodity,” she said.