The Why

Stop millions of wetsuits going to landfill

Wetsuits and other neoprene products are often underestimated as a source of pollution and landfill waste. However, the exponential growth of the number of people who practice various water sports, coupled with the lack of sustainable collection and recycling systems for this type of products means that the issue is more serious than ever.

We calculate that globally, an estimated 8,380 tonnes of old wetsuits lie unused every year, with the majority probably headed for landfill.

The calculation is as follows:

We have applied circa $300 USD as the average price of a wetsuit. This is very conservative due to the high volume of supermarket suits that are now being sold.

We have applied an average weight of 1.5kg

Based on our own experience and retail contact research, we have chosen to be conservative again with the average lifespan and have put this as 5 years. So based on the global market value being approx. $1.7bn in 2017/ 5.6m units sold, we estimate that those units would reach their end of life by 2021 which would be around 8,380 tonnes of neoprene probably headed for landfill.

We know that the market will be in excess of $2bn in 2022, therefore the problem is getting larger not smaller (source: Technavio market research).

We can make the assumption that most wetsuits are ‘‘probably headed for landfill’ as most, once disposed of, are not recycled (less than 1% of all textile waste is) and there will also be a significant volume that is yet to be disposed of.

If the 8,380 tonnes of neoprene waste is set against 92,000,000 tonnes of global textile waste, we do not believe to be over stating the issue. Especially as it doesn’t include all other neoprene products.

To provide a sense of scale that equates to over one million wetsuits a year going to waste!

While there are recent developments in more eco-friendly neoprene using natural rubber, there is a long way to go before we reach the point where this type of material substitutes conventional neoprene, which is based on petroleum. Whether for the additional R&D required or just for pure price premium, it would take many years until we reach the point where a wetsuit is biodegradable and hence its disposal is rather harmless.

Finding an effective and sustainable solution to the problem of disposing of wetsuits and other neoprene products has become one of the core goals of our company. It is this challenge that created our mission and the reason why we need to halt the damage to the planet, while still remaining enthusiasts for the outdoor life and watersports.