Find out how Jonathan Morrison and his team manufacture high-quality skateboards from discarded plastic bottle caps
A product that tells the story
“At the end of 2015, I was working in sales – and not that excited about it – when a friend told me Aernout Zappey and Rogier Heijning were making skateboards from plastic bottle caps. I’ve been boarding since I was 14 and was instantly inspired by the concept. The use of recycled materials in the skateboarding scene was virtually non-existent at the time.
Aernout and Rogier had created boards that looked very cool but were still under development. They were made from different kinds of plastics which made them quite likely to break. So I took on research and development at Wasteboards. It gives me joy to make things, and to be able to do more than just sell products or services. The beauty of Wasteboards is that the product tells the story: by leaving the bottle caps recognisable, the boards visualise the problem and provide a solution in one.”
Used plastic as raw material
“Plastic is a very durable material, but we use it in the wrong way: it is meant for products that last for many years, but we use it to make bottles and straws for one single drink! That makes absolutely no sense to me. What we should do, is make unique products that last, and prevent them from ending up in nature. So much material is there already, lying or floating around. And there are countless possibilities to use up that material first.”
Cap by cap towards sustainable skateboarding
“We’ve achieved a lot in a short amount of time. I’m proud of that. In three years, we’ve sold over 1000 boards, we’re in loads of shops, and we’ve reached a lot of people through various programs. The skateboarding scene is not necessarily a sustainable one. But we’ve brought an entirely unique product on the market that, itself, communicates both the problem and a solution. With that, we’ve started building a movement in the lifestyle skateboarding scene.”
Building a circular skateboard
“It would be super cool if, in 5 years, our Wikipedia page would say that Wasteboards was one of the world’s first 100% circular skateboard brands. The pioneer of a new branch of reuse. We’re not quite 100% circular yet. We’ve yet to find out how, for example, the wheels and hardware can be made from recycled material and be fully recyclable, while maintaining the three things important for skateboards: functionality, quality and affordability. We’re doing a lot of research with different parties to make that happen; we like to have something to strive for.”
A word to future changemakers
“Don’t listen to other people too much. Many people told us: ‘It’s not going to work; there must be a reason why it hasn’t been done yet.’ If we’d listened, Wasteboards wouldn’t exist. Instead, we pulled ourselves together, set goals and achieved them! Now, we’re showing the world you can create a viable business from a sustainable idea. So find a niche within the big plastic problem and do what you think is cool. Are you creative? Launch a product. Tech-savvy? Create an app. Just go do it!”
Wasteboards manufactures high-quality skateboards from plastic bottle caps. They collect these bottle caps with the help of visitors of music events, school kids, companies, you name it. Each WasteBoard is made by hand. And each design is completely unique, because no single colour pattern is the same as in any other board.
The aim is to show people the value of plastic. To show that it is not waste but raw material for cool stuff. Although the problem is enormous, it is Wasteboards’ philosophy to just get started. To create, produce and adapt along the way, towards a positive outcome.