Clear resin with a green tinge

Stu Nettle
Design Outline

It's been over ten years since Clark Foam closed its doors in the US and ended the PU foam hegemony. Since then the number of non-PU boards have been growing with unoffical figures placing them at 30% of the worldwide total. The majority of these being EPS foam and epoxy resin.

With a growing interest in epoxy, manufacturers have been improving the product, the latest development being bio-based epoxy resin.

Regarding the green equation, a straight comparison between epoxy and polyester resins leans heavily to the former - epoxy rash notwithstanding, just ask Josh Dowling. Epoxy resins release less VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), they don't require acetone washups, and they're not flammable. Also, epoxy resins can contain bio-based additives without any negative effect on strength, which brings us to Eco-X epoxy.

Eco-X hits the market shortly. It's an epoxy resin distributed by Shapers in Australia that contains 20% bio-based additives - and no, it isn't coloured green, the accompanying photo isn't to be taken literally.

Eco-X has run the gamut of testing by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) so it contains what it says, the certification confirming at least 20% of the product comes from renewable plant, animal, marine, or forestry stock.

Though it's yet to be sold to the public Eco-X has been tested by board makers. Hylton van Wyk, co-owner at Sel Surf in Queensland, ran tests with Eco-X before slipping it into production.

"It's the same texture as other epoxies, and the same strength too," says Hylton. Sel Surf glass boards under their own label but also for other companies too, and Hylton explains that Eco-X gets used on boards for particular consumers.

"More labels are pushing green credentials and that's when we use Eco-X," says Hylton. "It's probably 10% of our output at the moment but it's always growing."

Brett Giddings works for Sustainable Surf, the organisation that advocate the ECOBOARD stamp of approval, and he sees the same dynamic. "We've also seen a lot of growth in the number of shapers joining the [ECOBOARD] program in the last 18 months, especially in Europe, Asia and in Australia. There are now more than 120 brands making ECOBOARDS."

Boards qualify by using materials that demonstrably lower their carbon footprint, such as recycled foam blanks or bio-based resins.

Since 2012, when the ECOBOARD program began, Sustainable Surf have verified over 130,000 boards, a number that - like boards made from EPS/epoxy - is expected to grow in coming years.

Ostensibly, Clark Foam shut its doors due to environmental red tape encroaching on the business, the closure proving a boon for EPS/epoxy makers in the US. However, Australian PU/polyester board makers face no such bureacratic threat, yet the market is moving slowly, organically, toward the greener end of the market as evidenced by the popularity of manufacturers such as Firewire and Sunova, and the increasing use of 'green' resins.

Unlike the US, it's a consumer led shift and one that will ultimately benefit, not just the environment, but also the bottom line: the more demand for products such as Eco-X, the cheaper the finished product will be.

(Stay tuned for a longer article about the ECOBOARD project on Swellnet)


the-spleen_2's picture
the-spleen_2's picture
the-spleen_2 commented Thursday, 7 Sep 2017 at 11:38am

Applaud the move but 20% bio content doesn't sound like much.

neville-beats-buddha's picture
neville-beats-buddha's picture
neville-beats-buddha commented Thursday, 7 Sep 2017 at 1:50pm

20 % doesn't sound much but with eco resins (and eco foams too) it's a chicken and egg situation. There are already epoxy resins with a greater % of bio content, but they're more expensive becuase it's new technology and also there isn't much demand yet. The makers and distributors have to balance price point and bio content for it to turn a profit.

This is why the Eco-board approval is good because it's a marketing driver - appeal to the virtuous etc. I may sound cycnical but in other industries it's been shown to work so by virtue signalling your green credentials you do actually contribute because the market grows, prices come down, and in the example of Eco resins, a greater bio content can eventually be made commercially viable.

The other factor is strength of epoxy resins with increasing bio content but I've hard of resins with 60/70% and no change to integrity. It's an exciting field.

pointy's picture
pointy's picture
pointy commented Thursday, 7 Sep 2017 at 9:11pm

has anyone done a LCA on epoxy resin (including the hardener) V Polyester resin (including the catalyst)

After 36yrs in the coatings industry using both and I am unconvinced of the claims that epoxy is more eco friendly

I haven't played with resins for many years so things may have changed but amines are commonly used as hardeners for epoxy resins and they are toxic

The raw materials that each resin is made from would not be a lot different as far as their green credentials (or lack of) go

so, is there definitive proof that epoxies are better or is just that they smell better?

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Friday, 8 Sep 2017 at 7:44pm

Qld Govt ditching the Moreton Bay bags.(Check)
School kids doing Marine Debris Counts.(Check)

All while Skegz refuse to quit their dirty habit! ..."Hey look! A really mean plastic bag!"
Surfboards are cancer sticks leaching chem trails. We know this! Hence the article!
We can't escape eating toxic surfboard residue in worldwide sea harvest.
Ask ! Where do surfboards wear down? Well mostly in the guts of non boardriderz & all.
(Unknown toxic lifeforms are found evolving in our seastock) ..Wonder where they're from.

Today's surfboard vidz are on par with retro ciggie ads or East German athlete medals.
All rode the high on a collective mass poisoning. "Look! A really creepy Plastic Bag Gang!"

If Surf industry can't sought it Greenpeace/Olympics/ Govt's will regulate "The Dirty Sport".
There go the beer banners off our beaches ...don't also be the last off the booze bus.

We all want the same thing & I'm certain fellow Swellnetonians leave the beach cleaner.
Surfboardriders renowned for hating The Man. Now the sport controlled by The Man!
Gen X's your bemoaned revolution! Roll the Toxic Man & cut your daddy-o loose.

Thanks Swellnet for keeping on topic.
All need to sought this yesterday. Great effort... We're all fans! All silent beach cleaners too.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Thursday, 21 Sep 2017 at 3:51pm

Well shit, here's a dynamic little corner of the surfboard industry. When I wrote this article a little over two weeks ago the best bio-content Eco-X epoxy could acheive was 20%, since then, however, an improved product is almost to market and its bio-content is 26%.

Once it's available Shapers will stock it. Here are two boards that were laminated with it this morning. No yellowing.

And yeah, there are other epoxies with greater bio-content but at present they're more expensive. As mentioned in comments above, the more popular it becomes the cheaper it sells for.

Watch this space...

pointy's picture
pointy's picture
pointy commented Friday, 22 Sep 2017 at 10:58am

But, If they are cured with amines then we are just trading off a small improvement in enviro' friendliness for a substance which is toxic to the glasser

Making the planet healthier and the inhabitants sicker...

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Friday, 22 Sep 2017 at 11:01am

Amines are in poly resin too, no?

So that aspect remains the same while the bio-content increases.

Gotta start somewhere.

pointy's picture
pointy's picture
pointy commented Friday, 22 Sep 2017 at 11:46am

No, there are no amines in polyesters. they do have there own nasties but not as ban as amines for the user. The production of MEKP (catalyst for polyester) is not an environmentally friendly process but very small amounts are needed to catalyse polyester resin

Amines are also derived from Ammonia - think of Orica in Newcastle for the issues the manufacturing of that can cause.

Yes, we do have t start somewhere, as long as you are willing to tell your glasser that he is the guinea pig that may/will get sick from this starting somewhere option...

We are just swapping out one issue for another

PS I'l just add that my cynicism comes from years of being told in the coatings industry that one raw material is dangerous and so is being replaced by 'this' you beaut one, only to be told one to two years later that the new one is just as bad. Don't dive into a replacement without looking at all of the implications

pointy's picture
pointy's picture
pointy commented Friday, 22 Sep 2017 at 4:07pm

" they don't require acetone washups"

meant to comment n this before but why do you think this is good?. Acetone stinks but at the end of the day "only" causes drowsiness and diziness.

normal epoxy thinners (and I do not know if that is what they use/recomend to clean up after this resin) or much worse. They are a mix of solvents: some of which are toxic

Also 26% bio content in part A at a 2:1 mix ratio is 17% bio content - better than 0% but if you use amines to cure it and standard epoxy thinners to clean up then I'd personally rather use polyester/MEKP & Acetone.

LeeD's picture
LeeD's picture
LeeD commented Thursday, 15 Mar 2018 at 11:00am

Epoxies can be cleaned up with white vinegar and if you want to go the extra mile rinse your brushes with hot soapy water. Metho also works treat.


udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Thursday, 15 Mar 2018 at 2:37pm

Pointy- Acetone is evil stuff.

Ellen's clam's picture
Ellen's clam's picture
Ellen's clam commented Saturday, 17 Mar 2018 at 4:53pm

Yup. Acetone, more than likely was the cause of epoxy sensitisation/allergy in the early days of epoxy board building.

mattlock's picture
mattlock's picture
mattlock commented Friday, 16 Mar 2018 at 3:22am

My Gravity skaetboard decks have been made with eco-friendly resins (soy based i think ). They have been doing this since the mid 90 s. I know working with timber is different but it seems the surf industry has some catching up to do. Stick a Smoothstar contraption under rhe front truck and you have a skaetboard that handles more like a surfboard than you could imagine. Keeps me sane when I can't get in the water. Yeehah.

sanded's picture
sanded's picture
sanded commented Friday, 16 Mar 2018 at 3:57pm

There is other eco resins available now at a better price.
Also the Surfset range - has a bio degrade rating of 49% but not plant based, instead alcohol based

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