Volcom Pipe Pro 2017 — Detailed Information

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 2017 VPP total waste diversion rate was 66%, a decrease from the diversion rates of 74% in 2016, however an increase on 2015 (65%). The total volume of waste produced at the event was up significantly from 1,365 lbs in 2016 to 3,559 lbs. This resulted in a higher quantity of waste diverted from landfill in 2017 (2,329 lbs v 1,004 lbs in 2016), however the lower diversion rate is something to focus on for future events.

As per 2016, waste diversion services were provided by Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii (SCH). SCH and the VPP implemented waste diversion activations in the contest secured areas, public areas in the beach park, and on the beach itself.  Additional diversion systems were set up in the VIP areas, and at the VIP BBQ.  Setup days were also covered for waste diversion.

All acceptable food waste, utensils, napkins and cardboard were taken daily by SCH crew to local Waihuena Farm, across from Pipeline where they were chipped and added to compost piles that were treated with bokashi to increase decomposition rates. The compostable materials that require chipping will be used to create soil and eventually utilized for landscaping purposes. While the food scraps and compostable materials that required no chipping will be used to create soil for food production at the farm.

Cardboard from VPP was also taken to Waihuena Farms where it will be used for weed barrier throughout their gardens, reducing the need for herbicides or other poisons used for weed control. When the cardboard is used in such a way it eventually breaks down into the soil and is more sustainable than being bundled up and shipped overseas for recycling.

The total waste diversion numbers:

  • Recycled materials = 816 lbs – 23%
  • Composted materials (including cardboard) = 1,517 lbs – 41%
  • Landfill materials = 1,230 lbs – 34%
  • Total weight of diverted materials = 1,004 lbs – 74%
  • Total weight of all materials = 3,559 lbs – 100%
  • Waste diversion ratio = 66%

On the final event run day, SCH conducted a beach cleanup to educate the public on the goal of diverting waste and raising awareness of keeping coastlines clean.This helped the spectators understand the conscious effort being made to reduce waste, leading to better compliance at the diversion stations in place. An SCH Education Station was also included in the Ehukai beach park.

The event also made a strong effort to reuse and up-cycle materials, with the entire Red Bull commentator’s booth being built from repurposed materials from the 2016 Pipe Masters event. This activation was highlighted throughout the event commentary and helped to reinforce Volcom and Red Bull’s commitment to sustainability. In keeping with this theme, portion of the vinyl banners used at the event were repurposed for the homeless and the remainder were shipped back to Volcom HQ to be reused at future events.

Single use plastic water bottles were banned onsite at the event HQ and reusable Mizu water bottles were included in ‘goodie bags’ handed out during the event. Water refill stations, provided by the Menehune Water Company, supplied drinking water at the event and 48 re-usable 5 gallon jugs on site to help keep those water bottles filled.

Key observations and opportunities for improvement

The 2017 VPP achieved excellent performance for overall waste diversion. Despite the drop in performance from 2016, a 66% diversion rate is still to be highly commended. It is difficult determine the specific reasons for the drop in waste diversion in 2017, however SCH has noted in their waste report that communications with key partners may have had an impact on diversion. Sustainable Surf also observed some instances where caterers were unclear on the requirements for waste and sustainability best practices.

Communication to event partners, caterers and food vendors

We suggest that Volcom develop a sustainable events guide that can be shared with event partners. This document would outline key sustainability activations for the event and detail specific waste and energy considerations that Volcom expects event partners to undertake.

Closing the loop on compostables

In some previous years, Volcom has actively purchased food from the Waihuena Farm for caterers serving food to athletes staying at the Pipe houses. We suggest that Volcom explore this for next year and capture this interesting story in a VPP Drew Toons PSA.

Following continued increases year-on-year of the bio-percentage of the diesel used at the VPP, the biodiesel blend used in 2017 was B100; a 100% bio-based fuel. Working directly with Pacific BioDiesel, the VPP was able to make the shift from B80 (80% bio content) used in the previous year.  The total fuel usage for the event was 410 gallons of B100 biodiesel for all days the generators were in use.

Volcom now has solar photovoltaic energy systems on both of the two Volcom houses in front of Pipeline. These houses form a key component part of the infrastructure of the contest, with solar electric energy helping reduce the fossil fuel energy needed for the houses. All panels installed totalled 23.4.7 kW of capacity, and according to the solar monitoring system in place, the houses generated a combined average of 39 kWh of electricity per day during the event. The average usage of each house during the contest is 78 kWh per day. This also reduces dependence on fossil fuels for energy needs and creates local jobs.

In addition to supporting the local economy and community, the use of biodiesel and solar energy sets an example to help reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Shifting to more sustainable fuel sources will reduce environmental impacts and protect the ocean, and reduce the carbon footprint of the event.

Key observations and opportunities for improvement

Volcom should be congratulated on the shift to 100% bio-based fuel for the event generators and the installation of solar PV systems on both houses. This is an effort that should be seen as an example for other surf companies and surfing events.

Inspiring biodiesel usage beyond the event

The VPP does an amazing job of communicating the installation and use of solar PV systems at both of the Pipe houses via Drew Toons clips shown during the event. We suggest that Volcom should replicate this communication to show the use of biodiesel at the event. The biodiesel produced by Pacific Biodiesel is a closed loop fuel, made from the waste oil of local restaurants on Hawaii. This is an outstanding story of local sustainability in action.

Electricity production

Noting that the amount of energy produced by the solar system in place does not yet meet the energy requirements of the houses during the event, there may be an opportunity to procure green energy for the houses for these additional energy requirements and/or consider increasing the capacity of the systems in place.


Volcom donated more than $100,000 to local community groups as part of the 2017 VPP. Funds are generated by the sales of Volcom Pipe Pro merchandise at the contest and through sales of specialty items throughout the year. Supported charities included:

  • The Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii: This was part of Volcom’s Give Back series that supports the Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii to inspire Hawaii’s youth to become responsible citizens.
  • The Live Like Sion Memorial Fund: honors the legacy of Sion Milosky.  Funds were raised by sales of specific Sion-related Volcom merchandise.
  • The Sunset Elementary School donations were raised through the sales of Volcom Pipe Pro merchandise sold by at the contest site.
  • Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii: Volcom held a fundraiser at Surfer the Bar, raising $3,400 in one night, whilst raising awareness for the organization.

Validating these efforts, Volcom received a letter of recognition from the Hawaii Senate for the sum of charitable donations given to the Hawaiian community over the years.

Key observations and opportunities for improvement

The 2017 VPP provided an incredible level of community support. The total monetary donation is an impressive figure, and Volcom is commended by giving much-needed dollars to the local community.

In addition to continuing this support in 2018, there may be an opportunity to engage online viewers and others involved in the event to also give back to the local community. This could involve a specific call out before the event to organizations providing catering, travel and media support to join Volcom in giving back. Engaging viewers to donate and provide support could also be a way to create interesting content and raise further funds.

The 2017 Volcom Pipe Pro has offset 100% of the carbon emissions for the event with verified carbon credits from the Wildlife Works Carbon Kasigau Corridor, Kenya REDD+ Project. The total overall estimated footprint for the event is 359.7 tons CO2e. This is a slight increase on 2016 levels, however also includes emissions associated with Volcom staff partners, which were previously excluded. This improvement in reporting transparency should be commended.

The total carbon emission data includes the following inputs:

  • Air travel and airport transit for invited pro surfers and their travel partners, Media, WSL, and Volcom staff and partners (98.1% of total).
  • Electricity generation (0.6% of total).
  • Emissions related to hospitality for athletes and staff (hotel and food production)(0.3% of total).
  • Emissions from spectator transportation to the event (1.1% of total).

Air travel is 98% of the total carbon footprint for an event like the VPP, so Volcom created a questionnaire for athletes to improve our understanding of the carbon footprint of the event. In 2016, athletes were asked which airport they departed from on their trip to the VPP, how many companions they had, and what type of lodging they were using on the North Shore.

Carbon calculations for 2017 used results from the 2016 questionnaire. For example, the average companion factor was 0.25, so the calculations assumed one out of four athletes traveled with a companion. So the final air travel calculation for athletes included an additional 25%.

The carbon (CO2) footprint from this year’s Volcom Pipe Pro event will be 100% offset through a partnership with Sustainable Surf that will source the highest quality, 3rd party certified carbon offsets. The chosen offsets produce both environmental and social benefits from the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project. This project is developed by Wildlife Works, an award winning organization based in California’s San Francisco bay area.

“REDD+” stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, helping 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.

The Wildlife Works Carbon Kasigau Corridor, Kenya REDD+ Project protects over 500,000 acres of threatened dryland forest, wildlife, and rural communities in southeastern Kenya.  The Kasigau Corridor is formed between two National Parks, Tsavo East and Tsavo West.  The Kasigau Corridor is also home to large diversity of mammals, birds and a great number of IUCN Red List species like Cheetahs, Lions, Grevy’s zebra, and over 500 seasonal African elephants.

The project has already seen many successes in protecting endangered species, building new schools, and implementing new water catchment and clean water supplies in the area.  This project has been validated and verified under both the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCB), receiving a Gold Level status from the CCB for exceptional biodiversity and climate benefits. Learn more about Wildlife Works at www.wildlifeworks.com and more about the Kaigau Corridor REDD+ project here.

Key observations and opportunities for improvement

The 2017 VPP has achieved an excellent level of performance in reducing its climate change impact.  It is using high quality REDD+ carbon offsets for the 4th year in a row, to offset 100% of calculated emissions. Volcom’s commitment to carbon neutrality is commendable and is recommended to continue.

Expanding the scope of the emissions accounted for

The climate change performance could be improved by incorporating the lifecycle carbon footprint of materials used at the event, and by collecting improved data for athlete’s companions and for spectator travel. It’s fine to use results from prior surveys, but it would be more accurate to collect this data every year.

Improving awareness of climate change

Another potential area for improvement is to help spectators develop awareness and inspire them to reduce their own carbon footprint and live an ocean-friendly lifestyle. The impact that climate change will have on the reefs and oceans that ultimately underpin events like the VPP is something that Volcom could share via a Drew Toons PSA and other communications throughout the event and beyond.

The use of the Turtle Bay Resort shuttles by Volcom staff, media and contestants helped reduce traffic congestion and pollution. Turtle Bay and the VPP also provided shuttle runs for guests at the Turtle Bay Resort. The VPP also promoted  alternative methods of transportation like biking through a Drew Toons PSA before the event and during the webcast.

Key observations and opportunities for improvement

The 2017 VPP worked in partnership with Turtle Bay Resort to offer shuttle services to guests.

Further promoting alternative transport

There is an opportunity to further highlight the alternative modes of transportation by providing this info in prominent place on the event website and having specific call-outs before and during the event to promote walking, biking and shared transport.


The authors on this report are Brett Giddings, Kevin Whilden and Michael Stewart of Sustainable Surf.

Special thanks to Meliana Judd of Waihuena Farms for facilitating the composting, and to Kahi, Jeff and the team at Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii for being a committed pillar of the North Shore sustainability community.

Extra Special thanks goes to Derek Sabori, former VP of Sustainability at Volcom, for his leadership and general stoke for wanting to highlight sustainability at Volcom’s major surf contests, and for supporting and showcasing all of the partners that make a sustainable surf contest possible. This thanks also goes to Richard Woolcott, Todd Hymel, Brad Dougherty, Daniel Terry, Jeff Arnold and Ryan Immegart at Volcom for making sustainability, again, a key component of this year’s event.