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.
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 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.
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.
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
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!
Gary McNeil used to do Hemp/PET inlays on his boards, made it really strong.
Gary is a legend! He uses our Flax cloth these days
What would you say the advantages of the flax cloth are? Are they done with epoxy resin?
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
Regurgitator will have to upgrade their polyester girl to a PET girl now that it's so sexy!!!
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.
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..
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.
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...
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
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
Thats a sexy twin from rocket ace...are they Krypt fins ?
edit ; nope Hanalei
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.
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 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.
You won’t be redeemed by a little gesture, need to give us more love
"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.
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.
just off topic, are FW still making those wool boards?
I haven't seen any in the water or in the shops.
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.
Rocket ace in GC made a sweet board a couple of weeks ago with only pet fibres if you are keen for a look:
He said it goes really well.
Edit: was mentioned above. Sorry for repost
Good news. That's the ticket . . .
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!