By Corey Simpson.
Billions of tons of plastic enter our oceans each year. According to the United Nations, old fishing gear accounts for more than 10% of plastic pollution. Fishing is a global industry and this is a global issue – it leads to major degradation of our ocean ecosystems.
Patagonia recently announced a seed investment in Bureo Inc., a company that has established a fishing net collection and recycling program along the coast of Chile – transforming the waste into sustainable skateboard decks.
Bureo’s innovative skateboards are manufactured in Chile through their program called “Net Positiva,” which provides fisherman with environmentally sound fishing net disposal and Bureo with highly recyclable and durable raw materials.
And they’re not stopping along the Chilean coast. Bureo is working collaboratively with a wide range of organizations to build a global fishing net collection coalition with the goal of turning this huge source of plastic pollution into a net benefit (pun intended).
“Bureo is not your typical startup – they’ve invented an incredible recycling program by rallying the fishing industry in Chile to turn plastic ocean waste into a great product,” said Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario. “We’re investing in Bureo’s vision to scale their business to a global level and make a serious dent in the amount of plastic that gets thrown away in our oceans.”
Patagonia’s investment comes through its $20 Million & Change fund, which launched last year to help innovative, like-minded startups bring about solutions to the environmental crisis and other positive change through business. Or, in Yvon’s words, to help entrepreneurs and innovators succeed in “working with nature rather than using it up.”
Patagonia is providing critical seed financing to Bureo, which previously received support from Start-Up Chile (a program of the Chilean government) and IDEA, Northeastern University’s venture accelerator. Bureo Inc. is a pending B Corporation based in Los Angeles and a 1% for the Planet member.
“Our goal was to create a sustainable business model, relying on the success of our products to expand our social and environmental impact,” said Bureo Director David Stover. “We are fortunate for this opportunity to work with Patagonia, a partner aligned with our vision, and receive an investment from their $20 Million & Change fund.“
Bureo is a contributing member of a growing community of organizations combating the issues of derelict fishing gear, working collaboratively to expand relationships with non-profits and create new inroads with existing plastic collection programs around the globe.
“The challenges facing the ocean environment on a global scale are complex, with plastic pollution representing a major threat,” said Bureo Director & Environmentalist Ben Kneppers. “We are working to find solutions through positive products, such as our cruiser skateboard, to shed light on the beauty of the natural environment and inspire others to find solutions of their own. We know that by joining efforts with others we can make the difference we are working towards.”
By securing raw materials through “Net Positiva,” Bureo has developed a custom resin formula for construction of signature Bureo fish shaped skateboards characterized by a distinctive fish scale gripping pattern, swallow tails and a unique locking system.
“We set out to make an inspiring product by incorporating sustainable design and innovative features, and making a board that everyone would enjoy riding. We want to show people that this material isn’t a burden or a waste, but an incredible raw material with great potential for upcycling,” said Bureo Director and Designer Kevin Ahearn. Bureo recently launched their boards in select U.S. retail locations and online.