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Environmentally friendly Planet with Riley Products

Planet Riley - We think of the Environment! Do you?

What does Planet Riley stand for? What is the difference between Riley Balsawood Surfboards and any other surfboard company? A lot!

Balsawood contains and stores: Carbon, Oxygen, Hydrogen, and Nitrogen and is biodegradable.

Balsa’s sustainability lies in the potential for carbon sequestration, its large fast growth rate, and its potential in agroforestry systems.  

  • Carbon sequestration: As balsa trees grow, they absorb CO2 from the atmosphere while releasing oxygen. During their lifespan, they act as a carbon sink. This means that they are taking greenhouse gasses out of the atmosphere, helping to mitigate the climate crisis. They can store a significant amount of carbon, growing as tall as 90 feet with a trunk of 4 feet in diameter.
  • Fast replacement rate: The rapid growth of balsa trees indicates the ability to replace balsa timber cut down for making furniture or household items. As a balsa tree typically takes less than five years to mature, it is relatively fast for the forest or plantation to replace any cut balsa timber. Thus, in this sense, balsa wood is more sustainable than slow-growingtropical hardwood species, such as paulownia
  • Agroforestry land usage: Balsa trees are a good component in agroforestry systems (i.e., the intentional combination of agriculture and forestry to create productive and sustainable land-use practices). 

    Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere filter pollutants, and play a critical role in improving air quality, and consequently,
    human health.

The Ochroma pyramidale species are pioneer trees. They grow fast and colonise a clearing rapidly, i.e., afforesting the land. Also, their extra-large leaves provide shade to the young seedlings of the slower-growing tropical trees. Such trees could later provide timber or other forestry products (after balsa harvest finishes). 

Balsa is 100% natural, elastic, flexible, lightweight, biodegradable, reusable and recyclable.

For every balsawood board made - 5 new balsa trees are planted on ex-sugar cane land. To make one balsa board it will take 80kg of CO2 (which is half to make a PU regular board).

  • 1 Balsa tree absorbs a total of 64 kg of CO2 over 4 years
  • 5 trees will absorb 320kg of CO2 over 4 years from the atmosphere. The one board you buy has just been neutralised 4 times over.  
  • 1 hectare with 1,100 balsa trees absorbs 70,400 kg of CO2 (70.4 tons) over 4 years.
  • Lots of carbon offsetting here, and more possibilities available for other companies to get on board to help with their offsetting. 

As surfers, we enjoy nature daily more than anybody else. This is why at Riley Balsa we constantly try to reduce our impact on the environment. In producing only balsawood surfboards we have already taken a big step towards more environmentally friendly surfboards. A balsa wood tree grows very fast. After 3-4 years it already reaches a height of up to 25 metres and a diameter of 70-85 cm. The tree will not grow any more after this time (it dies) so it is best to harvest it then. At the time of cutting, the balsa tree holds seeds in a cotton wool ball pod and when it hits the ground the seeds are scattered on the ground. Usually, there will be around 100 seeds that germinate from this (if not more). Balsa wood is therefore highly sustainable and can be recycled. For every tree that is cut, there are 5 trees replanted.

•During the shaping process, we try not to use harmful materials. In fact, on our solid surfboards, the only waste is balsa and redwood sawdust which is put into compost for the garden. Some small offcuts are given to schools and other charity organizations.
•Our foam core boards have a recyclable polystyrene core (rather than a polyurethane core that is toxic when made). Polystyrene is safer for the shaper as well as the environment – it can be recycled again and again. 

Riley surfboards last at least 5 times longer than a board made out of traditional materials. This means less or no boards go to landfills.
•The glues we use contain no volatile or flammable ingredients.
•We recycle the sandpaper after it is used in our machines. It is reused for hand sanding.
• Riley uses polyester resin for all of their boards and fins. We use this product because of the great polished finish that is achieved and the ease of carrying out repairs, strength, durability, and non-yellowing, amongst other factors. Polyester Surfboard resin uses a reactive solvent that is from a recycled source and saves 15% on material [styrene] than a standard resin.  The solvent has excellent wet-out properties for use with fibreglass and has increased mechanical and UV properties. The manufacturing process also uses several other byproducts. Therefore the use of these by-products is not as detrimental to the environment.

• Riley wood surfboards store carbon! That’s right – approximately 50% of the dry weight of wood is carbon, removed from the atmosphere by growing a tree. So approximately half the weight of the balsa in our surfboards is carbon and it’s better locked up in there than out in the atmosphere! Promoting the environmental advantages of wood is one of the aims of Wood. Naturally Better.™ We’ve recently become a Wood. Naturally Better.™ Program Partner because we support the use of sustainably sourced wood. Wood not only stores carbon, but it has low embodied energy too – the energy used to create and manufacture it – so it’s even more environmentally friendly.
You can find out more about Wood. Naturally Better.™ at
• To reduce our CO2 footprint we have started growing our balsa trees in Queensland rather than importing it from Ecuador and Papua New Guinea. 
• Riley Balsawood Surfboards is a member of the Rainforest Alliance. The Rainforest Alliance works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices, and consumer behavior. Please check out their website ( and support their cause.
•Because the balsa substrate is stronger than the regular polyurethane blank – it requires less glass and less resin, therefore, reducing the impact on the environment, all surfboards must be glassed to give them longevity. 
• All of the rags and clothes, boxes and mixing containers that are used come from recycled materials from Australia, and these are reused many times.
•All of our fins, fin boxes, and leash plugs are exclusively Australian-made.
• Our factory and office are powered by solar panel energy and battery back up so the sun powers everything.

• The vehicles we drive have now been converted to LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) to reduce the amount of fuel/oil we consume.
•For all national and international orders we use recycled custom-cut cardboard and two layers of innovative EnviroBubble it is the world’s first 100% degradable bubble wrap that incorporates EPI’s TDPA (Totally Degradable Plastic Additives). It is made in Australia and the wrap has a controlled shelf life of a minimum of 12 months. - please do the right thing when receiving an order and either reuse the packaging or recycle it properly.

• Please also check our "Who we support" page. Since 1996 we have donated to support the surfing world, environmental issues and communities by contributing time, support, gifts, products, and money to make the world a better place. Check out who we support by clicking here.

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