Charity wetsuit recycling scheme

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The Wave Project is collaborating with waste-management company Suez to launch a pioneering initiative to recycle Cornwall’s mountain of discarded wetsuits.

The Wetsuit Reuse Scheme aims to tackle the estimated 380 tonnes of non-recyclable neoprene generated each year. With over 50% of this waste originating in Cornwall, the Duchy has become something of a wetsuit graveyard.

Under the scheme, which has received £116k of funding from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Good Growth Programme, dedicated wetsuit recycling bins will be placed at Cornwall Council household waste recycling centres, managed by Suez.

The discarded suits are collected and transported to a new repair workshop in Newquay, where a team will clean, and if necessary, mend the wetsuits for resale at the charity’s high street store.

Any wetsuits beyond repair will be upcycled into new products like bags, pillows and mats.

If successful, The Wave Project and Suez hope to roll out similar programmes nationwide, preventing tonnes of non-recyclable waste from ending up in landfill or polluting the oceans.

All profits will fund the charity’s programmes. Surf therapy especially has become an established and evidence-based form of therapeutic support for both mental and physical health.

Wave Project CEO, Ramon Van de Velde, said: “The Wave Project improves the health and wellbeing of children throughout the UK with surf therapy and the healing powers of the ocean.

“This pre-loved wetsuit scheme not only raises vital funds to enable the charity to help more children. It also makes the sea more accessible to people who can’t otherwise afford wetsuits, and of course importantly takes neoprene out of the waste-cycle. This really is a win-win-win. We are really grateful to the government’s Good Growth Fund and Suez for providing the funding to kick-start this project. If the Cornwall pilot proves successful, we hope to roll it out nationwide.”