Bureo: from the sea to the street

It is no secret that industrial activities have largely contributed to the pollution of seas over the years and fishing, even when carried out by villagers and not by big companies, has a larger impact on marine ecosystems  than one would imagine: every year approximately 64,000 tonnes of fishing rods and nets are thrown into the sea threatening the survival of many species and endangering not only entire ecosystems, but also humanity, since so many people inevitably end up consuming contaminated fish.

In 2010 David Stover, Ben Kneppers and Kevin Ahearn came up with an idea that not only appeared as a solution to the issue of plastic pollution in the sea, but also developed into an original mission-oriented business: they started producing skateboards out of abandoned fishing nets and that is how Bureo was born.

Bureo means “waves” in Mapuche, the language of indigenous people in Chile, and it is exactly in the centre of this country that the company started out. The Chilean coastline presents one of the most productive marine ecosystems in the world and the main revenue for many locals, therefore it must be protected: Bureo’s circular economy project definitely gives a large contribution to the preservation of the country’s marine fauna and flora.


The production process

Since the beginning the company has collected more than 80 tonnes of nets. It is estimated that it takes 3m2 of nets to make a skateboard. After they’ve been collected, the fishing nets are washed and prepared for a mechanical recycling process: within this process, they are shredded and fed through a 'pelletizer', where they are melted and cut into small recycled pellets. These pellets are then injected into steel molds to form the final products. Compared to the production of traditional skateboards, the method reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 70%. The wheels are 30% vegetable oil and have a 100% recycled mechanism. Once finalized, the boards in the shape of long fish with coloured scales sell for between 130 and 200 dollars.

The business’s mantra, “From the sea to the street”, clearly conveys the founders’ dedication to the protection of the environment and their commitment towards forming a new business mentality which regards the improvement and preservation of natural ecosystems as a source of revenue instead of as an additional expense.





The NetPlus Project

At present Bureo is thinking about expanding its range of products, in particular by producing sunglasses and surfboard fins made from recycled fishing nets. The company’s website  also contains a blog which actively contributes to the mission by spreading awareness and stimulating other businesses to follow Bureo’s example by undertaking greener policies and adopting a circular economy mindset.

One of the most recent exmples of the startup’s influence is given by its partnership with Patagonia. Starting from 2020, the company decided to integrate Bureo among its main suppliers by establishing the “NetPlus project”, an initiative that aims to clean the oceans in collaboration with local fishing communities by providing financial incentives for the nets collected. The project, on the one hand, is aimed to draw attention on effective solutions that companies can undertake to fight the ocean plastic problem and, on the other, it helps Bureo deal with the increasing number of fishing nets that are collected from the sea every day.

Patagonia’s most popular NetPlus products are hat brims, Trek bike parts, Humanscale office chairs  and even sustainable Jenga sets.

All Patagonia’s hat brims now use Netplus, accounting for 60 tonnes of recycled material. Matt Dwyer, who leads Patagonia’s materials innovation and development team, says the hats are just the beginning.

“We have to provide whatever economic incentive we can for these materials to get recycled into high-quality durable goods, like a jacket you’re going to wear for 25 or 30 years,” he explains. “It’s about proving it can be done.”