Fantastic plastic

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

Polyethylene terephthalate - commonly abbreviated to PET - is the most commonly used plastic on Earth. Last year 480 billion drinking bottles were made from PET. Less than half of them were recycled.

Recycling of PET has been problematic as it's often mixed with other types of waste. Yet as Nev Hyman, founder of Firewire and NevHouse told Swellnet last year, “Plastic isn't a waste, it's a resource. But you've gotta turn it into something that's really sexy for people to be bothered collecting the waste and recycling it.”

The market for sexy PET products is increasing with clothes, carpets, and cars already using PET fibres, and today we reached peak chic with the release of PET cloth for surfboards.

Basalt stringer and tail reinforcement with 3oz PET cloth and 4oz E-glass on top

PET cloth is a collaboration between Sanded Australia and Colan Fibreglass. The PET is certified 100% post-consumer waste by Repreve, who not only stamp its bona fides but convert the bottles into fibre, then ship it to Australia where Colan weave it into cloth.

Unlike some fibreglass substitutes, such as flax or basalt, which are both shades of brown, PET cloth is closer to the look of fibreglass. However, it’s not totally clear, so while it’s invisible over the foam the weave can be seen over, say, the legrope plug.

The white weave is visible against the legrope plug and stringer - look for it in boards that claim to be made from PET

The earth tones of other fibreglass substitutes have prevented mass market acceptance, however John Dowse from Sanded expects PET cloth to have a wide reach.

“[By using PET cloth] the big labels can stamp their environmental credentials on boards that don’t look any different to what they’re making now,” says John.

It’s likely that high-volume board makers will have to use a layer of regular fibreglass over PET cloth as sand throughs will fuzz up - similar to sand throughs on flax or hemp cloth - and potentially slow production, however smaller labels and the eco board makers could fully swap regular glass for PET cloth and still have a white board.

And the strength? The green tick means little if boards snap in half the time, so John commissioned a private laboratory, one that had worked with board labels in the past, to test various combinations of PET cloth.

The results showed a mix of 3 ounce PET cloth and Colan’s 4 ounce E-glass outperformed other variations. See graph above for those results. The tests were done using EPS core and epoxy resin for consistency across the samples.

As with all eco initiatives, good intentions fall by the wayside if they hit the back pocket, however the price point for PET cloth is relative to 4oz and 6oz cloths, selling for $8.95/metre, which in real terms, should add about $6 to a shortboard.

PET cloth is available in 3oz - which is stronger than both 4oz and 6oz E-glass - and 30 inch width

Last year, Firewire began using wool as a substitute for fibreglass, however this is the first time a fully recycled product - one that takes waste from oceans and landfill - has been used as surfboard cloth and taken to market.

Visit Sanded and Colan for more information.

Comments

Ronson's picture
Ronson's picture
Ronson commented Tuesday, 29 Oct 2019 at 12:33pm

This is awesome and just goes to show anything is possible. Not sure how the production cost (whatever that is and at what scale) is sustainable but its good news nonetheless

sanded's picture
sanded's picture
sanded commented Tuesday, 29 Oct 2019 at 3:17pm

Thanks Ronson for commenting the great thing about this fibre its been used in so many things these days (clothing, tents, backpacks..etc) we just opened their eyes to how it could be used as a composite and a few tweeks to the yarn and you get a very strong eco friendly recycled cloth!

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Tuesday, 29 Oct 2019 at 12:37pm

Gary McNeil used to do Hemp/PET inlays on his boards, made it really strong.

sanded's picture
sanded's picture
sanded commented Tuesday, 29 Oct 2019 at 3:18pm

Gary is a legend! He uses our Flax cloth these days

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Friday, 15 Nov 2019 at 9:24am

What would you say the advantages of the flax cloth are? Are they done with epoxy resin?

sanded's picture
sanded's picture
sanded commented Friday, 15 Nov 2019 at 3:19pm

Yep all natural Fibres are better in epoxy, its all about the bonding strength
poly has a bonding strength of about 500psi (pressure per square inch) while epoxy has about 2500 psi this mean less cracking and fracturing in the natural fibres

garyg1412's picture
garyg1412's picture
garyg1412 commented Tuesday, 29 Oct 2019 at 12:38pm

Regurgitator will have to upgrade their polyester girl to a PET girl now that it's so sexy!!!

carpetman's picture
carpetman's picture
carpetman commented Tuesday, 29 Oct 2019 at 12:47pm

Looks interesting. Sounds very similar to innegra. How’s it compare to work with? I’ve only done a few boards with innegra and it was a pain for an amateur like myself to work with. Turned out strong but heavy AF.

sanded's picture
sanded's picture
sanded commented Tuesday, 29 Oct 2019 at 3:29pm

yep similar but more an organic feel (weird that plastic can feel organic!) our vision for this cloth is to replace one of the 4oz layers on a deck of the board so weight factor wont be an issue the board in the pictures came out at 2.5kg 100 grams heavier than my normal build (5'11) mainly because we used 100 grams more resin (the cloth soaks resin only very slightly more than fibreglass. This was free-lapped.

imagine how many boards are made around the world in a year and if we just replace one lay of 4oz per board we are so far ahead in cleaning up the bottle/plastic problems - plus the higher breakage strength will help with reducing the amount of broken boards, so hopefully a win win..

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Tuesday, 29 Oct 2019 at 4:00pm

So approx a block of wax heavier - nothing really
For the weight fussy a cut lap would drop a few more grams as will more experience when glassing with it.

surfstarved's picture
surfstarved's picture
surfstarved commented Tuesday, 29 Oct 2019 at 1:50pm

Hey John, are you lurking? Can you use the PET cloth with poly and epoxy resins? I'm definitely moving towards all epoxy with the boards I shape, but I still have half a barrel of poly to get through before I can make that claim. But I'm also definitely interested to give the recycled PET cloth a crack - anything to make the world a better place.

Also interested to hear some feedback on how it is to work with. I'll second Carpetman's statement above about innegra - it's a tricky material to cut when it's all wetted out and can pull the cloth out of position with even a little bit of extra pressure, thereby introducing air bubbles into the weave yadda yadda yadda...

Don't let the bastards grind you down

sanded's picture
sanded's picture
sanded commented Tuesday, 29 Oct 2019 at 3:38pm

Hey Cass
Just jumped on now! Busy day!
We have a boat builder use it in a boat build in poly and we have a local shaper building a 100% PET/Poly/PU build right now, no problems so far..

Yes if will fuzz up like Innegra but easier to work with. Rocket Ace Eco boards built one 100% pet cloth the other week
https://www.instagram.com/p/B3BxvoTHfe6/

When wetted out feels more like fibreglass than Innegra so doesn't have as many probs..

Give us a call when you are ready to try it and we will give you the run down
Cheers

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Tuesday, 29 Oct 2019 at 4:09pm

Thats a sexy twin from rocket ace...are they Krypt fins ?
edit ; nope Hanalei

surfstarved's picture
surfstarved's picture
surfstarved commented Wednesday, 30 Oct 2019 at 1:49pm

Yeah cool, I'll do that for sure. I have a personal board - a triple-stringer gunnish mid-length kinda thing - up on the racks next, which should be a good candidate. Won't be for a while though - gotta build a deck on the house before I can get permission to slink away to the shed to do my own stuff.

Don't let the bastards grind you down

sanded's picture
sanded's picture
sanded commented Tuesday, 29 Oct 2019 at 3:49pm

Thanks Stu for shedding some light on this material!
We have worked hard to get this ready for surfboards and to have an eco friendly product that surfboard maunfacturers could use and not change the look of their boards too much (as this is always been the comments when we speak about the alternative products on the market with them).

As surfers we are in the ocean and see what is happening with our environment with the plastics in the water... (been to indo lately?) Anyway we can reduce the plastics is a good thing and if its going to help the strength of the build even better!

Vic Local's picture
Vic Local's picture
Vic Local commented Tuesday, 29 Oct 2019 at 8:44pm

Vic Local is regarded by some contributors on this site as a grumpy old curmudgeon, but this product puts a smile on my dial. Two thumbs up.

"angry online, smiley in the brine"

CRS's picture
CRS's picture
CRS commented Wednesday, 30 Oct 2019 at 5:19pm

You won’t be redeemed by a little gesture, need to give us more love

Vic Local's picture
Vic Local's picture
Vic Local commented Wednesday, 30 Oct 2019 at 5:27pm

"need to give us more love"
I would like to do that but Gary G stole it all and is handing it out to anything with a pulse.

"angry online, smiley in the brine"

adsi's picture
adsi's picture
adsi commented Tuesday, 29 Oct 2019 at 10:07pm

Fuck yeah I'd happily pay a bit extra for a board with PET cloth, just ordered an RTT from Gary MC Neil but couldn't fork out the extra $200 or so it costs for flax unfortunately, student life, would pay it when I'm cashed up though.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Wednesday, 30 Oct 2019 at 7:02am

great news.

just off topic, are FW still making those wool boards?

I haven't seen any in the water or in the shops.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Wednesday, 30 Oct 2019 at 7:10am

Not sure. I started looking into it yesterday when I wrote that sentence, but then gave up when I couldn't find out straight away.

However, I recall FW were releasing it in NZ first, and I think that was the middle of this year, before releasing it elsewhere.

Another thing though, the Woolight wasn't quite as eco-friendly as first thought: it's a renewable product, unlike fibreglass, however it was found to have a far larger carbon footprint than fibreglass.

I'll do some more research today.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Wednesday, 30 Oct 2019 at 9:33am

cheers Stu.

seen's picture
seen's picture
seen commented Wednesday, 30 Oct 2019 at 5:23pm

Rocket ace in GC made a sweet board a couple of weeks ago with only pet fibres if you are keen for a look: https://www.instagram.com/p/B3BxvoTHfe6/?igshid=qkreccj4fdyu
He said it goes really well.

Edit: was mentioned above. Sorry for repost

spuddyjack's picture
spuddyjack's picture
spuddyjack commented Thursday, 31 Oct 2019 at 5:10pm

Good news. That's the ticket . . .

Stay salty

Steelo2002's picture
Steelo2002's picture
Steelo2002 commented Friday, 1 Nov 2019 at 2:41pm

Hey guys

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Friday, 1 Nov 2019 at 2:44pm

Hey Steelo!

TomW Syd's picture
TomW Syd's picture
TomW Syd commented Monday, 4 Nov 2019 at 12:13pm

Great to see this.
If anyone is interested in this sort of stuff, please check out a new organisation that myself (with the help of others) has set up which focuses on materials used, consumer behaviour and product life cycle of surfing equipment. Started as a research thesis.
www.wavechanger.org

theblacksheep's picture
theblacksheep's picture
theblacksheep commented Wednesday, 6 Nov 2019 at 11:48pm

I’m assuming if we remake plastic bottles with recycled PET we can recycle the same plastic many times over? However once we soak the shit in resin on a board It’s non recyclable and we still have plastic waste filling landfills and oceans? Is this really as green as we think or Just feel good bs?

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Thursday, 7 Nov 2019 at 11:30am

Guess there are various ways of looking at it, Black Sheep.

You're correct that mixing it with poly resin prevents the PET from being recycled again, however at present it's not being recycled at all. 

Think you need to compare it to the present where fibreglass - extracted from a finite resource - is mixed with poly resin to make a material that can't be recycled AND our oceans and land fills clog up with PET, and then choose the lesser of two evils.

 

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Thursday, 7 Nov 2019 at 2:38pm

Hey Stu, where did you get your information from that PET isn't being recycled? I just did a quick web search and found that it can and is being recycled on an industrial scale. I dunno, I might have had my wires crossed on this, happy to be corrected.

Also, a lot of fibreglass is made from recycled glass so that probably puts it on a par with PET in terms of sustainability. They're both pretty crap for the environment really. What we really need is a plant based fibre and a plant based resin. Unfortunately from what I gather this is many years away from becoming competitive with the traditional materials in terms of price, strength and appearance.

sanded's picture
sanded's picture
sanded commented Friday, 15 Nov 2019 at 3:32pm

Hey Stu
That not entirely true, you can recycle epoxy... had great discussions with these guys.. but hasnt been able to do surfboard epoxy resin yet - (cause of all the optical brightner chemicials surfers demand to make their board white! ..) but there are not far off... the old materials are starting to be used in car components such are dashboards and trims!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePROb4ook3Y