Academic journal article Human Ecology

Biodegradable Composites Make Eco-Friendly Skateboards-And Create Local Jobs

Academic journal article Human Ecology

Biodegradable Composites Make Eco-Friendly Skateboards-And Create Local Jobs

Article excerpt

Prize-winning company offers green alternatives

Decks produced by Comet Skate boards look a little different these days. Instead of slick opaque finishes in bright colors, they have a transparent topcoat that shows the wood core below--either sustainably harvested maple, poplar, or bamboo.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

What looks slightly different on the surface translates into a completely novel characteristic--the boards are completely biodegradable. When you're done using them, they can be ground up and turned into compost.

The innovation is thanks to the research of Anil Netravali, a professor in Fiber Science & Apparel Design who has developed biodegradable composites made entirely from plant fiber and a resin derived from soy protein. They are much more environmentally friendly than traditional composites, which are typically made of petroleum-based products and can't be reused or broken down at the end of their life-cycle.

In 2006, Netravali cofounded a company with Pat Govang called e2e Materials LLC to sell products based on his research. And that caught the eye of Jason Salfi '93, a cofounder of Comet Skateboards.

In fact, Salfi was so excited about the prospect of making eco-friendly skateboards that he moved Comet's manufacturing operation to Ithaca last fall.

"For us, it's a commitment to the environment," Salfi said. "This product is a great alternative to the glues that most other companies are using. Sharing space with e2e allows us to develop the technology a lot faster together."

That's exciting news in terms of local business development. To start, Comet Skateboards has brought six new jobs to the area. And expanding their product line could mean many more jobs in the future.

In addition, the move is hard evidence that technology developed at Cornell can generate local jobs--a phenomenon that could give Ithaca a boost for years to come. …

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