Starboard Co. has taken the lead in offsetting the impacts of the plastic used in its business by creating the first Plastic Offset Program (POP) in coordination with the Plastic Disclosure Project and its methodology for measuring a company’s plastic footprint. Based in Bangkok, Thailand, Starboard has created some of the world’s best windsurf and stand up paddle boards since 1994, and is the top choice of champions and beginners around the globe. In their quest to help watersport enthusiasts best enjoy earth’s waters, however, Starboard has participated in a plastic economy that pollutes those waters with toxic plastic materials.
Starboard strives to be part of the solution, however, and not part of the problem. In their quest to lead with solutions, they have joined Ocean Recovery Alliance and their Plastic Disclosure Project (PDP), which helps Starboard to understand its complete plastic use and waste footprint within the communities it serves. Starboard exports its products to over 70 countries, and has now calculated its use of plastics of every variety in boards, accessories, apparel, packaging, and operations for both 2017 and 2018. The methodology of the PDP allows a company to understand and quantify areas where recycled content, increased material recovery, or use of eco-innovation changes can be made in product lines for so that its plastic footprint can be reduced within its operations. Over the past 12 months, Starboard has already replaced over 21.2 % of virgin plastic which would have been used, in favor of recycled plastic, and also reduced overall plastic consumption by 6.5% by using more bio materials.
After calculating their Plastic Footprint, Starboard took the leap to “price” its plastic use by assigning a financial value to the plastic used in production according to three different factors: duration of use, toxicity, and creation of waste. By accounting for these factors with an offset price, the Plastic Offset Program acknowledges the dynamic nature of the problems caused by plastics and further clarifies – and quantifies – the investment necessary to mitigate the impact of plastic used. This pricing scheme also encourages companies like Starboard to rethink and reinvent how they use plastic in an effort to reduce the external cost of the plastics they use. Eliminating plastics from production, or switching to less harmful varieties (and thus with lower offset prices) will lead to a reduced investment in the Plastic Offset Program, incentivizing companies to reengineer and reduce their plastic consumption habits.
“We are excited to debut the world’s first Plastic Offset Program, the POP. We have created a fund based off of plastic use in our products, which we will invest back into projects that protect the ocean – our greatest resource and big blue playground for paddlers and windsurfers worldwide,” says Svein Rasmussen, Chief Innovator at Starboard. This initial fund of at least US$24,000, will be dedicated to “offsetting” its plastic use by removing and recycling ocean plastic. The company has already dedicated significant funds to R&D of natural materials like balsa, which can be a replacement for toxic thermoplastics like PVC, and has supported NGOs with larger funding to reduce plastic pollution impacts in waterways both in Bangkok and world-wide. The POP, NGO support, environmental R&D, and advocating for legislation, all fall under the umbrella of “Plastic Net Positive” – Starboard’s aspirational goal to do more good for the plastic economy than they do harm. Through strategic use of funds, Starboard will not only “offset” their use of plastic, but also help better integrate plastics into the circular economy and mitigate their own impact on the planet.
Starboard hopes to set an example not only for the watersports industry, but for all participants in the plastic economy. It is imperative that all stakeholders in the plastic economy recognize the unpaid costs of plastics; a toll that is taken on our environment and our health. Starboard and Ocean Recovery Alliance encourage others to not only be a participant in the PDP to benchmark their plastic use, but to also price it via the POP as they acknowledge their role as a business stakeholder in the communities they serve, and join in Starboard’s leadership to recognize the value of this externality while contributing accordingly.