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Chile business turning fishing nets into skateboards ramps up sales

Friday, December 19, 2014 - 01:56

Chilean innovators collect discarded fishing nets from the country's long coastline and turn them into skateboards for U.S. teenagers. Sales start taking off. Tara Cleary reports.

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STORY: Skateboards - the preferred way of getting around for many young and not-so-young people all over the world. Chile-based company, Bureo, now makes them from recycled fishing nets. Abandoned nets litter Chile's 4,000-mile long coastline. So Bureo co-founders Kevin Ahearn and Ben Kneppers devised a novel way to use them. SOUNDBITE: BEN KNEPPERS, BUREO CO-FOUNDER, SAYING (English): "What we thought of is - what if we transformed this material into something positive? Something inspiring, something innovative but also something inspirational for future generations. And the idea of making this plastic cruiser skateboard really ticked all those boxes with us and spoke to us personally." After collection the nets are cleaned, broken down into pellets, and then heated and molded into a fish-shaped board called The Minnow. Bureo got help from Chile's government, which provides seed capital to start-ups who commit to spending time in the country. Kneppers says that funding enabled the pair to return to Chile and finish the product. SOUNDBITE: BEN KNEPPERS, BUREO CO-FOUNDER, SAYING (English): "And that's what we did over a six month period and were able to produce our first ever skateboard from recycled fishing nets earlier this year." Additional funding came from a Kickstarter campaign and from outdoor brand, Patagonia. The Minnow sells for $149 U.S. dollars apiece and Bureo aims for sales of up to 20,000 by its third year. But Kneppers says it's not just about money - increased sales will allow them to support local fishing communities. SOUNDBITE: BEN KNEPPERS, BUREO CO-FOUNDER, SAYING (English): "It was something that we could translate into higher value to allow us to use these funds to go back into the program, to scale up the infrastructure and give back to these coastal communities we would be working in." And for Kneppers and Ahearn, the Minnow might be just the beginning of a great ride.

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Chile business turning fishing nets into skateboards ramps up sales

Friday, December 19, 2014 - 01:56