A UCT honour’s graduate has partnered with a marijuana and magic mushrooms medical research company to create environmentally friendly surfboards.
Luke Colvin completed his honours degree in mechanical engineering at UCT in 2017, which focused on sustainable surfboard core substitutes as alternatives to polyurethane and polystyrene.
He needed to make a sustainable surfboard as part of his research, but couldn't due to a lack of funding.
So nutraceutical biotechnology company M2Bio Sciences, based in Cape Town, invested in his idea and they have created a collection of 10 biodegradable surfboards made out of mycelium (a threadlike fungi) and hemp.
M2Bio gave Colvin the resources to work on the project along with Stephanus Louwskieter Hartman, an eco-friendly consultant at the company. The two have been working closely for the last few months and conceptualised the idea of a sustainable surfboard.
Colvin has been surfing since the age of 10 and never knew how to properly dispose of his old surfboards because they aren’t biodegradable.
“I grew up on the beach in the south of Durban, always seeing pollution and being hyper-aware of it, especially after huge storms,” he said.
He added: “I give my old surfboards away to developing surfers, or else they gather dust and I run out of space.”
Louwskieter Hartman grew up on farms doing organic farming and composting from a young age. He studied electrical engineering at West Coast College in Atlantis and completed his studies in 2013.
Hartman said he was happy to create an item that would make a difference on a bigger scale.
“We wanted a product that wouldn’t take 600 years to break down if it ended up in a landfill. We don’t want to create anything that could cause harm to the planet,” he said.
The M2 in the company’s name M2Bio stands for marijuana and mushrooms. The company conducts biotechnology research surrounding alternative plant-based cannabinoids (cannabis) and psilocybin (mushrooms).
Through the research, they create products that are used to treat patients who suffer from alcohol addiction, mental illness and cardiovascular diseases.
Head of visual communication and design at M2Bio Sciences, Johann McLoughlin was responsible for the colourful design of the surfboards.
“We wanted to be true to our brand and work within the psychedelic space whilst making it appealing for a larger audience too,” he said.
The designs draw inspiration from various pop art styles, vintage half tone prints, mandala patterns inspired by the far east, and 60's tie-dye, McLoughlin said.
Chief executive and founder of M2Bio Jeff Robinson came to South Africa three years ago to investigate the biotechnology sector and was blown away by the local talent.
“The talent pool is unreal. I always hear that so many South Africans want to leave, but the quality of workmanship in science has been phenomenal,” he said.
Each of the 10 surfboards will be auctioned as a non-fungible token (NFT), which means that it gets sold as a digital asset, along with the physical item.
The auction will take place on NFT marketplace Open Sea.
The M2Bio Sciences surfboards are being developed and will be ready in December.
Auctions close on August 19, 2021.