On an unseasonably warm day in early March, we made the trip down from San Francisco to meet with the crew at Route One Surfboards in Monterrey. After a not-so-quick stop by ECOBOARD surfer, slider, Ashley Lloyd’s place, followed by a quick splash on one of her perfectly tuned logs, we arrived at Route One’s factory a little salty and with the telltale reef-safe sunscreen smears on our face - “yeah we had a board meeting on the way down”.
Factories making high-performance surfboards (think boards ridden on the QS and CT) are synonymous with the aroma of polyester resin. Not Route One’s. All of their boards are crafted with low-VOC Entropy bio-resin. That lack of smell also impressed the Monterey Bay Air Resources District when they randomly called by last year. The inspecting agent claiming that the factory set “the gold standard for sustainability and environmentally friendly surfboard production”. We thought so too, approving Route One to make Gold Level ECOBOARDS back in 2018.
Route One Founder, Malachi Boyce
Upon entry, Malachi Boyce, the brand’s founder, lead us straight into the shaping bay where he was obsessively critiquing an EPS blank. Most of Route One’s boards are machine-shaped in house, with Malachi hand-finishing every one of them. Nothing uncommon about that, but the brand’s approach to managing foam waste is another thing that sets them apart.
Route One found a local company, FoamLinx, that could take and recycle all of their EPS offcuts. That same company is also able to take EPS foam from old surfboards. So earlier this year, the crew at Route One set out to find an efficient way to separate that foam from boards used, abused and broken by their team riders. They succeeded and are now starting to close the loop on used boards - including boards from other brands.
Busted EPS boards and sorted foram ready for recycling
What’s next we asked? FoamLinx can’t take the dust produced when cutting blanks. Route One has reduced this to a minimum and is now looking to integrate it into building and architectural products. They still have a way to go with resin and fiberglass waste, and are exploring fin production. The wooden handles from paintbrushes are used to make mulch, but Malachi’s obsessive nature has him yearning to find a way to recycle the brush heads as well. Our surfboard lifecycle study identified that waste makes up to 40% of a board’s carbon footprint, so Malachi’s focus is certainly justified.
Recognizing that every surfboard, no matter how it’s made, has a carbon footprint, Route One was one of the first surfboard brands to start planting SeaTrees to balance that impact. Every Route One ECOBOARD made plants a mangrove SeaTree on Biak Island in Indonesia. Sequestering carbon, while providing sustainable employment for local villages.
Obviously, we’re big fans of Route One’s holistic approach. Drop them a line to hear more about their craft or head to one of our favorite surf shops, Proof Lab, to check them out in person. Need to try before you buy? You can also find Route One’s boards on Awayco - don’t forget to plant a SeaTree at checkout!
Josh Mulcoy putting a Route One ECOBOARD to the test - Mark O. McInnis