Vans Triple Crown 2015 — Additional Info

This page provides additional details and media on each of the five categories of sustainable impact reduction for the event. Also see the main page of this report.

The 2015 Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (VTCS) achieved a total waste diversion rate of 55% for all three events. The total amount of waste collected was 70% higher than the amount of waste in 2014, because Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and the VTCS implemented waste diversion over a larger area and on many more days.  This year, a major point of emphasis was providing waste diversion services on the lay days and set-up days for the contest. Working on lay days and set-up days significantly increased the number of days with waste diversion services.

In the following videos, Kahi Pacarro, Executive Director of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, explains how the waste diversion and composting works for the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.

The overall waste diversion performance of 55% was lower than 60% in 2014. The lower diversion ratio performance event can be attributed to several factors. First, the increased availability of Flowater stations reduced the use of plastic water and drink bottles.  This reduced the amount of recyclables in the waste stream and lowered the overall diversion ratio. Second, the inclusion of lay days and setup days changed the type of waste collected.  The percentage of landfill trash increased on lay days, because of the types of waste being generated by the public beach-goers included less compostable food-ware.

One of the main lessons from the 2014 sustainability report was the need to encourage food truck vendors to use compostable food wares.  Food trucks are one of the primary food sources for contest spectators and beach visitors. Prior to the first event in 2015, The Vans Triple Crown and Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii spent considerable effort in educating food truck vendors to use compostable options for food serving containers. This education effort was aimed at food truck vendors that show up for the contest days adjacent to the event site. On lay days, a higher proportion of non-compostable food containers were found in the waste stream. Thus waste diversion effectiveness was reduced because of outside food vendors not being using compostable food containers, especially on lay days.


Marine plastic debris art installation on the bike path

The overall waste diversion strategy was similar to last year, and very effective.  Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii managed the waste diversion process, and measured performance.  SCH placed waste diversion tents on in public and contest areas, and had staff that regularly managed the waste being collected.  Three streams of waste were generated: compostable food and cardboard, bottles and cans to be recycled via the HI-5 program, and landfill trash that is ultimately incinerated by H-Power.

All acceptable food waste, utensils, napkins and cardboard were taken daily by Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii crew to local Waihuena Farm, across the street from Pipeline, to be prepared for composting. The main composting effort for food scraps was done using the innovative Bokashi fermentation method, which has a two-stage composting method. The first stage ferments the food waste in barrels with beneficial micro-organisms. After two weeks, a traditional compost pile is created from the fermented food waste and added plant material and cardboard collected from the event.  This speeds the composting process significantly, and produces usable compost in about a month.

One of the lessons learned from 2014 was that the bokashi composting process was not working on the compostable food ware.  Forks, spoons, and containers were not being composted on Waihuena farm. To solve this, Vans purchased a commercial chipper that would chop and shred these items before being bokashied. By increasing the surface area of the serv-ware, the hope is that it will compost better. A better alternative is to use wooden plates and utensils, because wood is a natural component of any compost pile.

PVC banners from the contest site are being recycled by Mafia bags, which has recently opened a manufacturing facility in Honolulu.  Mafia bags makes high quality upcycled bags and accessories from waste PVC banners and sails.

The total waste diversion numbers:

  • Recycled materials = 2,060 lbs – 20%
  • Cardboard materials = 796 lbs – 8%
  • Composted materials = 2,795 lbs – 27%
  • Landfill materials = 4,582 lbs – 45%
  • Total weight of diverted materials = 5,651 lbs – 55%
  • 36,296 single-use plastic bottles diverted via Flowater stations
  • Total weight of all materials = 10,232 lbs – 100%
  • Waste diversion ratio = 55%

The final report from Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii has more details on the waste diversion numbers, with breakdown by contest and lay days.

Suggested improvements for Waste

The 2015 achieved excellent performance for overall waste diversion. Lessons learned from prior years helped create a more effective strategy for 2015. The VTCS increased their waste diversion effort by taking on extra areas around the event, and by including many additional days of coverage. The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, and all other partners are to be congratulated for their continued excellence and commitment in reducing the waste footprint of the three events.

For 2016, waste diversion performance could be improved by continuing to encourage outside food vendors to use compostable serve-ware that are specifically tuned to work with the compost methods used by the VTCS. Typical products labeled as “compostable” only compost effectively in industrial scale composting facilities, which do not exist on Hawaii.  The plastic utensils and cups from the 2014 event did not break down in the prior compost piles. Even the paper cups with a PLA plastic liner left the plastic liner behind. The new chipper purchased by the VTCS may help with composting these products by increasing the compostable surface area, but that remains to be seen as those compost piles progress.

This composting problem can be avoided by sourcing serving products that that are wood and paper based for ease of composting under any conditions. For example: Birch Ware utensils, and regular paper cups with a food-grade wax liner or some other liner that is compostable in garden conditions.

Additionally, more should be done to educate spectators and beach-goers on the ways they can personally reduce their contribution to the landfill waste.  Educational signs on the beach and near waste tents could help spectators become part of the solution by sourcing these materials themselves.

A waste characterization study could help identify additional strategies to reduce the waste being sent to landfill. It would be good to know an explicit breakdown of the waste sources from each component of the events.


The biodiesel blend used in 2014 was 70%.  The total fuel usage for the event was 1,014 gallons of B70 biodiesel (30% Petroleum) for all days. This is significantly higher than 2014, which used 600 gallons of B80.  The reason for higher usage is that every contest used dual generators running in sync mode, so that there is a much reduced change of a power outage.  If one generator fails, another one is already operating in standby to take over the load.  This increases the total fuel consumption.

The use of biodiesel supports the local economy and community, and sets an example to help reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Shifting to a more sustainable fuel source will reduce environmental impacts and protect the ocean, and reduce the carbon footprint of the event.

In addition, we learned that some grid electric power is used by the contest sites.  Both Haleiwa and Sunset have a connection to the local power grid, which is used to power parts of the trailers and judging towers.  Only the webcast is running 100% on generator power, to provide maximum reliability.  The total electricity usage for three events is 5,655 kWh.

The grid electric power in Hawaii has a high carbon intensity, because Hawaii uses inefficient diesel generators to create electricity. It’s actually preferable for the environment to use biodiesel-powered generators for the energy needs of the event.

Suggested improvements for Energy

The VTCS has used high percentages of renewable energy for three years running.  This is outstanding performance.

To further improve performance, we recommend that they aim for 100% biodiesel usage in 2016. Also, if possible, use the biodiesel generators to power 100% of the energy needs at each event site, and do not use the grid power for some electricity needs. This will reduce the carbon footprint of the energy use, because grid power in Hawaii has a high carbon intensity whereas a biodiesel generator has a much lower carbon intensity.

We also advocate the installation of solar panels on the Vans owner house roof at Pipeline. At Sunset and Haleiwa, it may be possible to use a portable solar PV system to offset some of the energy needs.

The total amount donated to local community groups was $81,000.

The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing supported multiple charitable organizations with $41,000. Funds are generated by the sales of  merchandise at the contest, a charity golf tournament, and by Vans, Reef, and the World Surf League. Supported charities were:

The Triple Crown also funded a complete restoration of the public bathrooms at Ehukai Beach Park, with a donation of $40,000. These bathrooms are now very clean, and used by the local community throughout the year.

Suggested improvements for Community Support

The 2015 VTCS provided excellent community support. The total monetary donation is an impressive figure, and Vans is commended by giving much-needed dollars to the local community. This level of support should be continued into 2016.

The 2015 VTCS has offset 100% of the carbon emissions for the event with verified carbon credits from the Valdivian Coastal Conservation project in Chile. The total overall estimated footprint for the event is 944 tons CO2e.

The total carbon emission data includes:

  • Air travel for all invited pro surfers and a portion of their travel partners, Media, WSL and Vans staff (88% of total).
  • Emissions related to hospitality for athletes and staff (hotel and food production) (11% of total).
  • Biodiesel power generators and electric grid power (1% of total).
  • Emissions from ground transportation to the event (staff, shuttles, and local spectators) (1% of total).


The 2015 Vans Triple Crown has offset 100% of these carbon emissions for the event with verified carbon credits from the Valdivian Coastal Reserve Conservation project in Chile. This is the first approved REDD project in Chile.

“REDD” stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation. It helps forest communities restructure their economies towards sustainable land use and forest conservation, instead of clear-cutting and other unsustainable land use strategies. A REDD project is a verified climate change mitigation strategy that helps stop destruction of the world’s forests and reduces CO2 emissions by deliberate enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

Along Chile’s southern coastline within a global biodiversity hotspot, the Valdivian Coastal Reserve is part of a temperate rainforest and one of the most carbon-dense forests on Earth. With more than half of the world’s temperate rainforests gone, the Reserve is one of the largest of these forests remaining on Earth. The project aims to achieve security for the threatened biodiversity, conduct scientific research of the unique, native Valdivian rainforest and contribute to the sustainable development of surrounding communities, ensuring long-term stability of the ecosystem. 

Prior to the project, the Valdivian Coastal Reserve faced an immediate threat of deforestation and degradation due to planned conversion to non-native eucalyptus plantations as well as the construction of a coastal highway. The Reserve is located on privately-owned property which was purchased by The Nature Conservancy in 2003 when an industrial timber company owning the land became insolvent. Without The Nature Conservancy’s involvement, another industrial timber company would have likely purchased the land and conversion from native forest to non-native eucalyptus plantation would have continued.

The Nature Conservancy purchased roughly 60,000 hectares of this forest, over 10% of the remaining coastal forest ecosystem in southern Chile, with conservation as the primary objective. The Nature Conservancy donated more than 9,000 hectares to expand the recently created Coastal Alerce National Park and recently protected the Reserve using the Chilean equivalent of a “conservation easement” which requires the current landowner, or any future purchaser, to continue to adhere to the conservation.

The Valdivian Coastal Reserve Conservation project has been validated and verified under both the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCB). In addition to the carbon storage benefit of the project, other benefits include: water stewardship, biodiversity protection, local job creation, economic growth and education.

For more detailed information about the project, download this link:

The use of the Turtle Bay Resort shuttles by VTCS staff, media, contestants and spectators helped reduce traffic congestion and pollution. This was promoted to staff and guests of Turtle Bay.  Also, the public transportation options using the public bus were posted on the website.

Suggested improvements for Transportation 

The 2015 VTCS achieved good performance by working in partnership with Turtle Bay and offering shuttle service to guests.  The most significant upgrade would be to provide shuttle service from Haleiwa to Pipeline and Sunset.  This would allow spectators to avoid the famous traffic along the Kam Highway and parking hassles. Perhaps this is something that could be organized for at least the final day at Pipe next year.