A pioneering project has been launched to save wetsuits from going to landfill and raise funds for a Newquay charity, which provides surf therapy.

The Wave Project in Fore Street and waste-management company SUEZ have started the Wetsuit Reuse Scheme to recycle Cornwall's mountain of discarded wetsuits. The innovative project aims to tackle the estimated 380 tonnes of non-recyclable neoprene generated each year.

Under the scheme, dedicated wetsuit recycling bins are placed at Cornwall Council household waste recycling centres, managed by SUEZ.

The discarded suits are collected and transported to a brand-new repair workshop in Newquay.

The team will clean, and if necessary, mend the wetsuits for resale at the charity's high street store.

Prices will range from £20 - £60, a fraction of the average £420 cost for a new wetsuit. Any wetsuits beyond repair will be upcycled into new products like bags, pillows and mats.

Ramon Van de Velde, the chief executive officer at The Wave Project and Mark Hillson, the general manager of SUEZ for Cornwall at the launch (Picture: Warren Wilkins) ( )

The pre-loved wetsuit scheme is made possible thanks to £116,000 from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Good Growth Programme and follows the increasing urgency around solving the environmental crisis caused by fast fashion and throwaway culture. 

SUEZ and The Project came together to launch the Wetsuit Reuse Scheme at Towan Beach on Wednesday, June 5, on World Environmental Day, which encourages awareness and action for the protection of the environment.

Ramon Van de Velde, the chief executive officer at The Wave Project, said: “The Wave Project improves the health and wellbeing of children throughout the UK with surf therapy and the healing powers of the ocean.

“This pre-loved wetsuit scheme not only raises vital funds to enable the charity to help more children. It also makes the sea more accessible to people who can’t otherwise afford wetsuits, and of course importantly takes neoprene out of the waste-cycle.

“This really is a win-win-win. We are really grateful to the government’s Good Growth Fund and SUEZ for providing the funding to kick-start this project. If the Cornwall pilot proves successful, we hope to roll it out nationwide.”

Craig Mouatt, the processing contract manager for SUEZ recycling and recovery UK in Cornwall said: “We’re delighted to be continuing our partnership with The Wave Project to support young people in Cornwall.

“As a triple bottom line business we are always looking for innovative ways to protect the planet whilst supporting the communities we serve, and through this initiative we can help raise funds to support the important work The Wave Project does whilst enhancing and protecting the environment.

“We look forward to continuing our relationship with The Wave Project to transform lives through surf therapy.”

If successful, The Wave Project and SUEZ hope to roll out similar programmes nationwide, preventing tonnes of non-recyclable waste from ending up in landfill or polluting the oceans.