Volcom Fiji Pro 2012 – Sustainability Evaluation

Overview of the Deep Blue Surfing Event Program
A Deep Blue Surfing Event™ is a more “Ocean Friendly” event, that helps to reduce direct threats to the sport of surfing from global climate change (such as sea level rise, ocean acidification, and loss of coral reefs), while directly addressing issues at the local level such as reducing waste and plastics pollution, improving water quality, protecting natural resources and building stronger communities.

The Deep Blue Surfing Event program was born out of Sustainable Surf’s partnership with the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) – North America, which produced a set of green guidelines designed to significantly increase the environmental performance of an ASP surfing event.

Criteria for Designation
Events that choose the Deep Blue Surfing Event program as a path for following the ASP’s new green guidelines – and that can meet the ASP’s recommended minimum goals for at least two of the five major categories of environmental impacts – are eligible to have their event designated as a Deep Blue Surfing Event.

Evaluation of Sustainability Efforts
Sustainable Surf’s post-event evaluation of Volcom’s efforts indicates that the Volcom Fiji Pro has exceeded the minimum requirements of these three categories: Waste, Climate Change and Community Outreach. The remaining two categories (Transportation and Energy) were not as applicable to this particular event given the constraints of the remote contest site in Fiji. It should also be noted that due to Volcom’s choice to hold their event off Tavarua Island, this event was not attended by a large group of onsite spectators, which has an overall effect of helping to further reduce environmental impacts related to the majority of the categories measured.

The Volcom Fiji Pro contest has demonstrated a strong commitment to sustainability, and those efforts were aided in large part by the choice to site the majority of the event’s operational footprint at the world famous Tavarua Island Resort. The resort is in the process of obtaining the first Sustainable Surf Tourism Certification, a program of the Center For Surf Research at San Diego State University. Tavarua Island Resort also has long-standing partnerships with local community organizations, and has given over $8M to support the local Fijian community in the past ten years.

The Five Key Elements of A Sustainable Surfing Event

ASP Green Guidelines Recommendation:
1. Implement a comprehensive management and diversion strategy to limit event waste.
2. Minimum goal is 25% of total event waste is diverted from landfill.

The Volcom Fiji Pro has exceeded the minimum goal for Waste.

Actions taken by the Volcom Fiji Pro:

  • Food waste is taken daily to the main island of Fiji and used by local Fijians to feed livestock (pigs, chickens, etc.)
  • All drinking water on island comes from rain water.
  • All toilets use brackish water from the island, which feed into wastewater treatment system
  • Wastewater treatment system filters water from individual accommodations, and recycles the water on the resort grounds and gardens.
  • Beer bottles from the resort are collected and recycled directly to the Carlton brewery on the main island.
  • All other waste is shipped off of Tavarua Island every 2 months and is taken to the Lautoka landfill on Fiji. The Lautoka landfill is seen as one of the best operating landfills in the Pacific Islands for its innovative waste diversion programs, which includes permitted “resource pickers” who remove any remaining recyclables by hand.

ASP Green Guidelines Recommendation:
1. Support and showcase the efforts of local environmental and social organizations, and include them as stakeholders for possible event legacy efforts.
2. Support at least one NGO working on a local issue relevant to the event

The Volcom Fiji Pro has exceeded the minimum goal for Community Support.

The event supported the following environmental and social organizations that do charitable work in the Fiji community:

  • Surf Credits: Buying a Surf Credit allows traveling surfers to support environmental and social projects operated by accredited local NGOs, in the local communities they visit while traveling. Volcom encouraged surfers to buy surf credits during the contest by giving away free t-shirts to buyers and through repeated announcements during the live web broadcast.
  • Loloma Foundation: The Lolomoa Foundation distributes medicine, clothing, school supplies and other necessities to many agencies throughout the South Pacific, including Fiji, and the Solomon Islands. Each year, Loloma Foundation treats thousands of patients in remote areas of these countries. Volcom supported this organization by donating a portion of the sales of Volcom Fiji Pro merchandise.
  • Give Clean Water: Volcom partnered with Give Clean Water.Org and Tavarura Island Resort to deliver and install clean drinking water filters for each of the residences in the local villages of Momi and Nabila. Filters were also provided to the local school in Nabila.

ASP Green Guidelines Recommendation:
1. Calculate the total CO2 footprint of event, and help mitigate it by purchasing verified carbon offset credits or otherwise through direct actions taken at event.
2. Minimuim Goal: 50% of CO2 footprint of event offset or mitigated.

The Volcom Fiji Pro has exceeded the minimum goal for Climate Change.

The total carbon footprint has been estimated by Sustainable Surf at 404 metric tons CO2e, which is about the weight of 148,000 surfboards. The total carbon footprint includes:

  • Air travel and airport transit for all invited WCT surfers and personal entourage, Media, ASP and Volcom staff,
  • Petroleum fuel use for power generators and boats/jet skis for the contest tower and the Tavarua and Namotu resorts,
  • Emissions related to food production and consumption.

Volcom has made the Volcom Fiji Pro event “Carbon Neutral”, by offsetting 100% of the estimated CO2 footprint through a partnership with nonprofit organization – Carbonfund.org. This compensates for the entire carbon (CO2) footprint created by putting on the surfing event. Volcom is supporting The Purus Project, which prevents rainforest destruction in the Amazon through engaging local communities in conservation and creating jobs to protect biodiversity. The Purus River is habitat for the rare Amazonian river dolphin and scarlet macaws. This Project is currently being reviewed for validation to the Verified Carbon Standard and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCBS). To review the complete Project Design Document, please visit: http://climate-standards.org/projects/index.html

Mitigating the event’s CO2 footprint helps reduce direct threats to surfing from climate change/global warming such as: sea level rise, ocean acidification, and loss of coral reefs.

ASP Green Guidelines Recommendation:
1. Source some portion of power from clean, renewable energy sources such as biodiesel, solar or other alternative energy sources.
2. Minimum goal is 25% renewable energy utilization for event’s power needs.

The electrical energy needs of the contest and the resorts are met by diesel power generators that used a total of 630 liters/day of diesel fuel. At this point, petroleum based diesel fuel is the only reliable fuel in Fiji for powering these types of generators. However, Tavarua Island Resort has been exploring the possibility of sourcing biodiesel from suppliers on the main island of Fiji that contains a percentage of locally derived coconut oil. These efforts are still in the early stage of testing for the quality and quantity of the fuel being produced, as well as its long term availability. However, Jon Roseman, Owner/Operator of Tavarua Island Resort, says that he  remains very optimistic about the potential to swap out the current petroleum diesel fuel, in favor of a locally produced biodiesel. This swap, could allow a dramatic reduction in the resort’s CO2 footprint and provide a pathway for future contests at this site to utilize renewable energy.

ASP Green Guidelines Recommendation:
1. Source hybrid/alternative energy powered vehicles and encourage the use of public and alternative transportation for event spectators.
2. Minimum Goal: provide shuttle service to and from event for local spectators, and offer incentives such as reserved bike and skateboard parking or valet service.

As noted above, unlike many other WCT events, the Volcom Fiji Pro is not an event that can draw a live spectator crowd, due to the remote location of the contest site. As such, the Transportation category as defined above, was largely not applicable as there was no large crowds that needed transportation to the event site. *Also, it’s pretty hard to park a bike at Cloudbreak or Restaurants…

Tavarua is reducing the impact of their transportation systems. They are in the process of updating the outboard motors on their boats to four-stroke engines as part of their Sustainable Surf Tourism certification. Jon Roseman from Tavarua Island Resort, reports that they have just purchased their first 4-Stroke boat engine for their dedicated fishing boat, and that the surfing transport boats are next in line. These engines are more fuel efficient and have significantly reduced pollution when compared to two-stroke engines. Tavarua also has installed numerous reef-mooring systems that reduce damage to live coral due to anchors being dropped repeatedly in the same spot.

Total fuel usage for boats during the contest was 850 liters per day.

Sustainable Surf’s own athlete and ambassador, Alison Teal, testing out the main modes of transportation at Cloudbreak.

The authors on this report are: Michael Stewart and Kevin Whilden of Sustainable Surf, with assistance from Dr. Jess Ponting and Carl Kish of the Center for Surf Research at San Diego State University