Beyond sustainable skateboards, Finland-based company Uitto’s big dream is to make a global skateboard recycling exchange.
The Uitto Biocomposite Skateboard in bark, moss and stone colors. Images courtesy of Uitto.
After junking one too many skateboards, Finnish skater Joel Raivio wondered if there was a better way to produce a deck. For him, it was unacceptable to haul warped and delaminated boards to the junkyard just because they were no longer usable. So Raivio started looking for a way to produce a sustainable skateboard, which resulted in Uitto, a company that produces a line of biocomposite boards that are non-toxic, eco-friendly, and 100% recyclable.
“The idea came on a surf trip in Portugal when talking about the waste of resources on skateboards with a friend while walking on a biocomposite boardwalk,” Raivio tells The Creators Project. “Why had no one made boards from that stuff?”
After doing extensive research, his team found a promising material that had the right attributes: a natural fiber composite made of Nordic trees and polypropylene. According to Uitto, the tree growth in these areas outpaces the the rate of logging. It’s actually the same wood used in the design of high-end electric guitars because of its acoustic properties, as well as in camping utensils for its resistance to harsh conditions.
Raivio says the team designed the board using 3D software, which allowed them to test the parameters and simultaneously build wooden mockups the old-fashioned way. After arriving at a shape they liked, Uitto began designing their first mold.
“We had to keep the costs down while prototyping, so we created a rather experimental aluminium mold,” he adds. “The mold barely held up the first batch of prototypes and ended up exploding.”
Ultimately, Uitto smoothed out the bumps in design and production. There are no more exploding boards, and judging from a recent video, the board offers skaters a smooth ride.
“We decided early on that we would make a cruiser board,” Raivio says. “A board that was fun and versatile. Something that was easy and smooth to ride, but also stiff enough to pop the occasional trick or powerslide.”
On the upside, the trees are processed in a closed cycle facility with zero waste. This means that all of the materials are reusable. The factory is also 100% funded by green energy, which was important to Raivio’s team.
“We hope provide a more durable and ecological alternative,” he adds. “Our dream is to one day implement a global recycling system, so that when you get a new board you can recycle your old one. Creating a closed loop where the skateboards life cycle is from cradle to cradle.”
Sure, the dream is starting out with cruiser boards—ones that may not be as robust as traditional boards. But when sustainability is the end goal, what’s wrong with one thing at a time?
by DJ Pangburn Jul 13 2016, 5:15am