With more than four decades of experience shaping and building surfboards, it’s no wonder Roger Hinds is considered one of the best in his industry. This was more apparent than ever when Hinds was awarded “Best in Show” in the Sustainable Surf division at the 2015 Icons of Foam Shape-Off Competition last month in Del Mar, California. Hinds uses recycled polystyrene foam to create the shape of his boards, making his products as sustainable as they are award-winning. (Most consumers mistakenly refer to polystyrene foam products as Styrofoam®, which is actually a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company.) While the material is commonly used as take-out food containers and hot beverage cups, it’s a lesser known fact that foam also works well as a filler or main component of other products because of its versatility and light-weight structure.
This marks the second year in a row that Hinds has taken home top honors from among his competitors; his board was also titled “Best Modern Performance.” Hinds shaped his award-winning Dingo model board using Marko recycled foam, and sealed – or “glassed” – it with a recyclable Connora resin. Using recycled polystyrene foam as a means of shaping surfboards is not a new concept. The non-profit organization Sustainable Surf has been collecting unwanted foam in California for this very purpose since 2011. The ultimate goal of the foam collection program is to keep unnecessary waste out of landfills, but Sustainable Surf founders Michael Stewart and Kevin Whilden also hope to educate individuals close to the surfing world about the importance of utilizing sustainable products. Having been endorsed by surfing professionals such as Torry Meister, Dylan Goodale and Mikala Jones, the Sustainable Surf team is clearly making an impact
Those within the surfing industry are not the only individuals benefitting from recycled polystyrene foam. The material can be used as needed in products such as picture frames, garden planters and architectural crown molding. Manufacturers of these items often prefer to use recycled foam as opposed to virgin materials because it can prove to be a substantial money saver. The Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI) recently released a report showing that nearly 140 companies in the U.S. and Canada are already either processing or using post-consumer foam.