Driven by a poorly functioning wetsuit and my belief that longevity is the key to sustainability, I pursued an interview with Rip Curl. This is a company which flies the environmental flag high and proud, with their Rip Curl Planet project. So I pushed for some answers, and here is what they had to say. Make your own mind up.
Interview with Julie Thimbaud, Rip Curl Planet Officer.
Rip Curl was founded in 1969. At what point did Rip Curl start to take the environment seriously? You say “We surf, we care” – so…
With community and environment as key company values, Rip Curl actively supports the protection of the world’s natural environment. With the creation of Rip Curl Planet foundation in 2008 (to 2010), our environmental program is continually growing stronger.
The rip Curl Planet collection is the leading environmentally conscious product in the surf industry, headed by project Resurrection, which recycles wetsuits into soles for sandals, and also features Moutainwear, boardshorts and swimwear made from recycled plastics, plus bio cotton t-shirts and the use of other recycled fabrics.
Rip Curl staff around the world also participate in Planet days, working with local environment al groups where Rip Curl has major offices to clean up, protect and revegetate beach and mountain areas. In our home town of Torquay , the planet days have run for 10 years , with staff crew responsible for successfully putting in more thant 50 000 plants indigenous to the area.
The Rip Curl foundation drived a host of environmentally initiatives troughout the company’s activities around the world, focusing on reducing waste, cutting back energy consumption and recycling/reusing materials.
We are now working on a new loyal statuts to follow projects we start with association. We will launch the new structure in April. In the words of Rip Curl CEO Olivier Cantet “While we are proud of what Rip Curl Planet has achieved, there is still much to do to keep this progression going, we are strongly committed to that!“
What are Rips Curl’s main activity areas now? Wetsuits, textiles… anything else?
Tell us a little more about your manufacturing for each part of your business.
We had a social and chemical compliance chart. We classify all our suppliers in A, B or C categories in terms of social and chemical criteria. Less than 1% of RC products produced by C-grade socially compliant factories. 80 % of RC products are produced by B-grade chemically compliant factories.
Where are your wetsuits made?
In our own factory in Thailand.
What are they made of?
Neoprene (termic insulation) + jersey (elasticity).
E3 +: more flexible than E3.
Flash dry: instead of jersey .
Stitch with liquid tape.
F bomb and Flash bomb: mesh at the back against wind chill.
For Fall Winter 201/2012, Rip Curl introduces the Flash Bomb. We will bring on the market a wetsuit that will be touch dry in 15 minutes. This means that for your second surf your suit will feel dry. We intended to release this product for this winter, but we were not happy with the stretch and durability of the material. Therefore, we worked on a new version for another year, on which we have exclusivity for the coming years.
The Flashbomb will also feature a waterproof zip and will also use stitchless technology. This will be the main innovation for Fall Winter 2011/2012.
We will furthermore build on our success that we created with the E3 and E3+ action panels. Fall Winter 2010/ 2011 was the first season we went to market with the E3+ and the flex of the material and durability is very satisfying and will therefore create a strong base for FW2011/2012.
Another important feature that we will use is the E3+ tape. We use this tape to reinforce the seams of the suit on the inside of the Flashbomb and E Bomb. It is just so must more stretchy than traditional liquid tape and it gives the same durability to seams of the suits, so no more pinholes.
Do you operate recycling centres for your wetsuits?
Where is your clothing made?
India, China, Indonesia, Portugal, Turkey, Taiwan, Bangladesh, Italy, France
What steps do you take to ensure ethical recruitment and production in manufacture?
We have our own chemical and social compliance. We ask every customer to sign our chart.
What is the mission statement of Rip Curl Planet?
Rip Curl Planet is the global name for all the initiative regarding sustainable development. Several points :
Protection of the environment: The Rip Curl Planet is serving one main mission: support the protection of breaks that are key to surfing, around the world. The RCPF structure is also used by RCE for its regional environmental partnership policy: support environmental preservation and education projects in Europe (oceans & mountains). Since 2008, more than US$ 574205 were given to environmental groups (Surfrider foundation Europe, Surf Against Sewage, WWF, Moutainriders…)
Eco friendly product range : to get the Rip Curl planet label, product must be made with at least 55% of one or several approval eco friendly raw material
Have “greener events” (reduce our impact : eco toilets, neutral carbon event, clean the beach every day involving the public as we did for the Rip Curl Pro Portugal
Internal actions :
Reduce our footprint (we are going to launch the carbon assessment of Rip Curl Europe in order to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions), action plan on logistic (reduce transport by air), inform all the employees during a planet day (we close the company for a day to discuss around sustainable development and have an action), trainings.
Use and print only on recycled or FSC paper, shopping bags made of FSC paper ; reduce our boxes buyings (70% of boxes send by our suppliers are re used) , recycle plastic, metal , paper, carboard.
Do you build longevity into your products where possible to reduce the product life-cycle?
Watches: all watches are 100% water proof and a 5 years limited warranty across its range of guys and girls watches.
Wetsuits: we have the best wetsuit warranty and repair service in the industry, 3 years warranty on all stiching, 12 month warranty on all other materials and construction, on aquaban liquid tape and on knee pads.
We have a after sales service center worldwide service at the headquarter for wetsuits and watches.
For the surfwear, try to choose good quality for raw material.
How does Rip Curl Planet help the ocean environment specifically?
Support environmental groups. See all the details on Rip Curl Planet
Do you have campaign action points, or is RCP making regular donations to other action groups?
Rip Curl and employees participate every year to surfrider’s clean-ups.
What percentage of your entire portfolio is made using environmentally sound materials?
13% of rip curl product are rip curl planet one
30% of rip curl tee shirt are rip curl planet one
How does Rip Curl reduce its impact of being involved with the ASP?
We try to have greener events every year, but there is no “green” guideline coming from the ASP.
What are Rip Curls plans for the future of sustainability within the sport?
Continue to support environmental groups on a specific objective to protect our playgrounds, protect our waves – a global action plan “Save our surf”.
Reduce our carbon emissions thanks to the action plan which follow the carbon assessment we are launching.
Give formations to employees on their job with better way of working specifically on product (choose better materials with certificate).
What has Rip Curl Planet achieved since its launch?
Grants to environmental groups: more than US$ 574205.
Rip Curl Planet product range (organic cotton, recycled polyester in Moutainwear boardshort and swimwear), wetsuit recycling, Artist of the Search range.
Employee involvement and behaviour.
Logistic efforts: sea freight 90%, air freight 2%, road freight 8%.