Follow along as CEO of Boards & More Group, Till Eberle discusses what sustainability at Duotone Kiteboarding means for him, the employees of Boards & More, the relative impact on our planet, challenges that come along with this new concept and why he personally feels obligated to make improvements on the actions of Boards & More as a manufacturer of sports equipment.
Hi Till, it has already been several years that you have been implementing sustainability initiatives within Boards & More. However, it is only recently that you have started to speak more openly about what the company is doing to reduce its footprint. Why was Boards & More not promoting these actions more prominently earlier on?
In our industry, claiming to produce environmentally friendly or “green” products is an empty phrase, as the main materials we use to produce our products are not naturally good for the environment. Therefore, we waited to get different concepts executed and up and running that can have a real impact, before we started talking about them.
What are some of the biggest moves that Boards & More has made in recent years towards becoming a more sustainable company?
From my view, we haven’t made any big moves yet, but we are starting and implementing all of the small initiatives that we can. Starting with CO2 compensation for all of our main products (Kites, Boards, Bars, Sails, SUPs), we redesigned all packing to use less material which is from postconsumer sources wherever possible, we are using recycled polyester for our bags and we are organizing and supporting beach clean ups.
How will these initiatives impact company actions and what will be the resulting effect or reduction in waste?
At the moment we compensate 6.342t of CO² per year. A car that goes around the entire globe once would emit approx. 7562kg. To emit 6.342 tons, that same car would circle the globe 838 times!
With our new packaging concept, we managed to save about 22 tons of paper and about 7 tons of plastic every year.
Further, with our last beach clean-up event, we cleaned up 27 beaches in 16 countries worldwide and collected about 800kg of trash. (Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 we had to postpone our summer 2020 clean up, however we will start this again as soon as it is safe to do so or more locally).
Another initiative is our cooperation with Waste2Wear who recycle postconsumer plastic bottles and produce high-end yarn. This yarn is then woven or knitted into fabrics that are used to produce our ION Core Boardbags, Duotone Sailbags and Duotone Kitebags. In one Kitebag approx. 24 bottles are processed.
What is your impression of how the majority of employees at Boards & More feel about these policies and projects? Do they jump on board easily?
All B&M employees believe it’s a necessary and important direction. Often, we have discussions about what makes sense and what does not at this stage in our development and with the resources we have available. However, once we agree on what projects we are ready to implement, everyone at B&M jumps onboard quite readily. Sometimes it can take a little time to change people’s habits in terms of making the choices to minimize their personal footprint like by carpooling to work or by taking public transportation instead of driving a personal car, but we’ve already been seeing significant improvement in these areas as well.
What are the challenges that come with these new policies?
The biggest challenge for us is that currently there a not many sustainable materials on the market, which fulfill our quality standards. Which is why for now we focus on using materials and building products that will have a longer useable lifetime and will require the user to replace them less frequently.
Why is it worth the effort despite these challenges?
It’s our responsibility to save our playground! And I would like to be able to look into the eyes of my son and at least say that we have tried to minimize our footprint.
Sustainability is about more than environmentalism, what are some of the ways that Boards & More strives to be sustainable in the broader sense?
I agree! For B&M, ‘sustainability’ also encompasses our employees and partners that we work with in our offices as well as our factories. We regularly visit our factories to ensure that they are meeting strict standards for working conditions and ethics. We strive to always be improving our work environment at our offices as well as our factories.
What are you most excited about in terms of sustainability at Boards & More? (i.e. future project, overall initiative, coming close to a certain goal?)
Instead of being exited, I am a bit frustrated that we are not able to make bigger improvements at the moment.
What would you say to people who question if sustainability at Boards & More is more about marketing and less about having an actual positive impact?
It’s easy to criticize, but difficult to make it better! Our approach to this topic is by starting with the small steps, we will eventually accomplish our goal to be the most sustainable company that we can be, while continuously contributing to positive social and environmental change. We know we have a long way to go, but we believe that it is better to start today than tomorrow.
This article first appeared on the Duotone website here.