Sieve Fins – Recycled Plastic Fins + Otter Wooden Surfboards
14 . 06 . 22
Back in April we were visited by Anna and Sebastian who were on a surf trip of the UK to promote their company, Sieve Recycled Plastics. They showed us a selection of fins they had made from recycled materials and we were stoked to find out more…
– Where did the inspiration for starting to make fins come from?
Originally Sebastian had the idea on a beach, seeing all the plastic that washed up and realizing his fins were also made from plastic. Being an engineer and always having ideas, he wondered if it would be possible to make fins from recycled instead of virgin plastic. So he started with a little hand-injection moulding machine in his garage and collected rubbish and produced the first prototype.
– What made you go down the route of injection molding plastic? and where does the plastic come from?
Injection moulding is the most efficient way to create products from plastic and Sebastian has a background in injection-moulding having worked for a big automotive company. Our plastic comes from a German recycler who recycles bottle caps from water bottles. Initially, we wanted to use plastic retrieved from the ocean but found that it did not have the quality needed to produce a high quality fin. So we looked for high-quality recycled plastic where we could also be certain that it is recycled locally, considering energy and water usage in the process.
– You mentioned that your fins are reinforced with fibreglass or carbon fibre. What does this add to the fin and can they still be recycled if you’ve used glass or carbon fibre?
Both materials (Fibreglass and carbon fiber) add extra stiffness to the fin. If they were just made of plastic they would be too soft. We can recycle those fins into new fins or make other products (like our fin key or buttons from it). However, our aim was also to create a long-life product from a short-life product like a bottle cap so that the fins can enjoy many rides.
– I notice that the fins have a texture, can you tell us more about that? And some of them have mixed colours, can you explain that? (I remember you saying it was to reduce waste, by not rejecting the fins created when you changed the colours on the injection moulding?)
Plastic is often seen as an ‘inferior’ material that quickly turns into waste. By adding a texture to the surface we wanted to upgrade the look and feel of the material, reminding people of its value and also creating awareness for the material. The textures resemble marine structures like waves, an oyster or swell lines.
The mixed colours are created when we change from one colour batch to another in our production. In most productions those ‘in-between’ colours are thrown away but we always aim to minimize any production waste. Also, we have a love for individual and ‘in-between’ things.
– I appreciate that making fins to suit all the different box systems takes time to refine, but what have you got on offer and what’s next for you?
There are so many ideas we have in mind but we have to take it one by one. Right now we have a single fin 8.0 , a twin fin and a thruster set. But we are also thinking of a bigger single fin or a future thruster set. And then there are also different materials we still like to try out.
– How has it been starting the business? and what is it like to run a surf company from Germany (not near the coast)?
I think starting a business has been the most exciting and challenging thing at the same time. Especially in the beginning there were so many things ‘new’ for us and there still are. Also we mainly started with a love for creating things, offering more sustainable alternatives and a lot of curiosity rather than a detailed plan.
Being in Germany was necessary for us to start (all that bureaucracy that Germans love ;)), our production is in Germany and so on. But now we are trying again to spend as much time as possible in and around the water.
-Is the business a full-time job for the both of you now?
Currently we are still working on the possibility for it to become a full-time job. But this will probably still take some time, patience and a lot of dedication. Our fins are definitely rather a love than money-affair at the moment.
-How is it running a business together? Are you able to play to your own strengths and trust each other’s judgments, or is there often/sometimes conflict? I imagine it’s a good test for your relationship…?
I think running a business together is probably one of the best tests for a relationship and we would lie if we said there were never any conflicts. I think if you do something with passion, it’s almost impossible to not have any conflicts. But most of the time we really appreciate each others skills and it is beautiful to see our idea grow and develop.
-I loved your thought, to connect with like minded individuals on the road of a surf trip to build relationships with people rather than just promoting yourself online, what inspired that?
I think from the beginning, the people we got to meet and connect with was something we enjoyed most about our business. After a few months we got a bit tired of our desks and were missing the ocean badly, so we had the idea to do a bigger surf trip and connect it with promoting our surf fins. So this trip really is a combination of the things we enjoy the most and its inspiring to see there are so many great people and entrepreneurs with cool stories and a big love for the ocean.
-Anything else you’d like people to know about you and your fins?
We are generally passionate about circular economy and closed-loop production using recycled materials. So we are always happy to hear ideas, collaborate or support with our knowledge regarding materials and production. So if you have an idea – send us a message!