Today, exists a big gap between the eco-friendly image returned by gliding sports and reality of its own industry. In spite of the growing awareness of the Surf community, Surf industry is reluctant to invest on surfboards manufacturing (which makes less profit than surf-wear divisions).
This led us to create the NOTOX project, which aims to bring real innovative « green » solutions to surfboards production problems.
2 Surfboards components and linked risks
Several components are used for realizing a surfboard:
* the foam blank. It is the main component of a surfboard. The blank is shaped (by a shaper) until it corresponds to the final surfboard size.
* Fiber glass cloth and resin. Are used for laminating the foam blank and give it the desired mechanical strength.
Shaping a foam blank make a large quantity of foam waste and dust (polyurethane or expansed polystyrene). Waste is approximately 50% of the initial blank volume.
The lamination step, make two different types of waste :
* waste of polyester or epoxy resin. These resins contain strong solvents, extremely dangerous for workers, specially in case of persistent inhalation.
* Waste of glass fiber. These very resistant fibers nearly never deteriorate within free environment and, when in dust state, are very aggressive for health.
Today, there is no center dedicated to such waste collection: only exist classical crushing, burning or composting.
With a world production of 2.400.00 surfboards, we can say serious problems of environment pollution, health.
3 Ecology and innovation
In such a context, no product seem to satisfy surfers sensitivity to ecology. Hence, since 2006, we develop a new composite sandwich (refer to Figure 1), which is definitely innovative and eco-friendly.
Since the NOTOX project beginning, we focused on the following main steps:
* 2 years of private research in the field of eco-friendly raw materials and there implementation
* study of the way to master risks and costs in relation to the selected materials lifetime cycle (mainly compostable bio-polystyrene, flax fibers and cellulose).
* study of the customers expectations: customers who are concerned by environment issues
Our eco-design approach, not only brings a solution to the production problems listed above, but it also restore consistency between the product (surfboards) and the values advocated by surf discipline. This advantage, will allow us to differentiate from the rest of market actors.
4 NOTOX project chronology
NOTOX project began in December 2005, following the closure of Clarkfoam (surf blanks world leader), facing majors issues regarding the non-respect of environmental and health regulations.
NOTOX project is held by 3 experienced persons with complementary profiles: research and engineering, marketing and sales management, surfboards manufacturing.
March 2007, NOTOX project is welcomed by the ESTIA (Engineer School of Advanced Industrial Technologies)
August 2007, the project get support for OSEO (the national bank of innovation): OSEO provided NOTOX with 25,000€. This subvention helped us to accomplish the following points:
* realizing several prototypes, as well as tools required for assembling the surfboards
* registering NOTOX as a brand, as well as reserving all related Internet domain names
* engaging procedures for patent registration (with the help of experts in industrial property)
* building the project business plan (with the help of accountants)
* building a communication plan (with the help of an agency specialized in sustainable development)
January 2008, the project is submitted to the OSEO – ANR National Contest of Innovation. Despite the project did not won the contest, it received the support from Regional Council of Aquitaine.
May 2008, the Innovation Bureau of Bayonne – Anglet – Biarritz helps NOTOX to study the case of building the NOTOX manufacturing activity.
June 2009, final steps to create the company (with a social capital of 230,000€) and start of very first commercial contacts with board sport industries.
5 NOTOX Company : description of the offer
NOTOX is an leading-edge structure focused on technology for boarding sports. NOTOX owns a research and development laboratory, open towards surf manufacturing industry, aiming at studying, designing, developing and industrializing sustainable alternative products and eco-friendly manufacturing processes. The activities of NOTOX resources will be focussed on three mains divisions : NOTOX Research, NOTOX Industry and NOTOX “LAB”.
6 Description of the NOTOX structure
NOTOX applies its knowledges around 3 main domains :
6.1 NOTOX industry
* You are to launch on the market this year a new brand of eco-friendly fins based on recycling used carpets. According too us, this is an excellent idea that need to be carefully launched at a marketing point of view.
* Knowing that NOTOX industry owns a clean manufacturing unit where NOTOX and well-known local shapers make clean and innovative surf hardware, we can envisage to open our plant and sub-contract the manufacturing of eco-friendly products (small series until 2010 and then large series); our manufacturing unit is located in Anglet (on the Basque Country – South-West of France).
6.2 NOTOX Laboratory
* Aka “the LAB”, this units aims at welcoming and hosting both local, national and international shapers: we propose them to produce their surfboards into a unique workshop, implementing all the leading edge technologies in terms of health, security and environment.
* The LAB, offers a wide range of composite production techniques (classical polyester, epoxy, vacuum process…). Hence, the LAB is the site where we can imagine new products and take benefit of our prototyping and research workshop.
* The LAB owns both a showroom and a website “point of sales” dedicated to clean surf products. Shaper partners, as well as industrial partners (hardware and accessories) get a free access to these tools for enhancing these business (new orders, new sales possibilities, new visibility, new advertising campaigns…).
6.3 NOTOX Research
* Through this unite, we realize eco-design studies to improve ecological impact in some of products or to imagine and make new products (engineering, testing, measuring… until production in NOTOX industry).
* Consulting, training sessions and courses about : eco-design, worker safety, health issues, environmental issues, products eco-profiling…
this article was first published here : http://www.surfline.com/surf-news/_30363/