A Second Life On Cement - Upcycling trash snowboards with NoK Skateboards
No getting around it. Nobody’s perfect. Not even machines.
Mistakes happen at a snowboard factory. Raw materials are sometimes flawed and factory staff are humans who occasionally make mistakes. Either way, a small percentage of snowboards come out wonky at various points in the production process.
Quality control inspections after every production step help weed out the bad apples throughout manufacturing, but a few boards are inevitably found to have a cosmetic or structural flaw at the last round of inspections before final packaging.
If it’s only a cosmetic flaw, the board gets labelled as a ‘Blem’. Blem boards offer the same performance as a first quality board, so they leave the factory with a full warranty, but they are sold at a discount because of the cosmetic blemish.
If a board is found to have a structural flaw, like too much nose rocker or a bad insert, the bad board gets marked as a ‘third’. Thirds don’t usually leave the factory. There are never that many thirds, so most get chopped in half and thrown away, chalked up as unavoidable waste of the production cycle.
We are not alone in this scenario. Every snowboard factory in the world produces some reject boards that get trashed. Nobody likes to throw them away, but traditionally there has been no consistent outlet to upcycle structurally flawed snowboards into any other product.
Two French snowboarders, Adrien Reguis and Vincent Gelin saw this issue first hand working as engineers and designers in the snowboard industry. After many years of watching prototype, warranty and ‘third’ boards get thrown away, they decided to do something about it.
Adrien and Vincent founded NoK, a company based in Grenoble, France that specializes in making skateboards out of factory rejects and warranty snowboards. Using a CNC cutting table, NoK chops cruiser skateboard decks out of the middle of a snowboard. The repurposed skate decks are then fitted with new grip tape, trucks and wheels to make a unique and high performance sidewalk surfer. It’s the ultimate upcycle for a snowboard that would have otherwise ended up in the dumpster!
“Working in the snowboard industry opened our eyes to the fact that a lot of defective and warranty boards are thrown away,” said Vincent. “All of these boards are still very interesting technically and graphically, but as there is no solution for recycling them, they end up in the trash. Seeing that happen to dozens of boards season after season made us sick.”
“Upcycling is one of the best ways to give a second life to a discarded product,” said Adrien. “By tapping into these overlooked raw materials, we reduce our consumption and avoid making more waste.”
A snowboard’s flex determines what skateboard shape is cut out. If it is a soft snowboard, NoK cuts a 66cm fish cruiser deck. If the board is stiff, Nok can cut one of four shapes, including a 78cm surf cruiser and an 86cm longboard. The skates are cut from the center of the board so they also carry on the art legacy of the snowboard’s graphics.
“The beauty of upcycling is not only in its positive environmental impact,” said Adrien. “Upcycling allows you to make very unique and limited edition products as each skateboard’s design depends on the graphics and backstory of the snowboard it’s cut out from.”
We are thrilled to now partner with NoK to make limited edition Jones skateboards out of our factory thirds and our European warranty boards. We do not have enough rejected boards to sell these skates to the public just yet, but we may in the future. Until then, ask your local Jones dealer if they have one for you to check out. Each one-of-a-kind NoK skate deck is truly a piece of functional art.