A Bordeaux start-up makes grips for surfing from used flip flops

These tap shoes are milled in their workshop on rue Achard, in the Bacalan district. The grains obtained were then aggregated. Each piece is unique. There is no specific motive. It’s a vibrant patchwork, variegated color with the full palette of very summer colors that the sandal strap industry has to offer. The raw material recycled is Eva foam, an acronym for ethylene-vinyl acetate, used in the composition of both these flip-flops and grips, “95% imported from Asia”, which makes it easy in maneuvers. You have to think about it.

Pellets of aggregate flip flops

Emmanuel Commissioner

Nicolas Thyebaut, Thomas Cervetti and Basile Gentil have in common that they lived in Southeast Asia. These surfing enthusiasts have worked for large companies in the Philippines and Malaysia. The first graduated from Kedge, a Talence -based business school. His two partners are engineers. At Polytech Lille, they are in the same promotion. “On the beaches of the tropical belt, we often see mismatched flip-flops,” reports Nicolas Thyebaut. It is the second most common waste, after plastic bottles ”.

One year of trial

Thousands of kilometers away, in Africa, his mother and sister made the same observation. President of the Mérignacaise Grain de Sable association, Véronique Thyebaut travels to Benin specifically for humanitarian actions. Her daughter, Prune, lives in Kenya, where one organization, Ocean Sole, is definitely fighting this type of pollution. The flip-flops collected on the coast are made into works of art, animal figurines that are exported around the world. From these cross-experiences came the idea of ​​these pads in accordance with the ecological raison d’être of the Bordeaux start-up.

Finding the right formula took a year. By varying the granulometry, the temperature, the intensity of compression and the rate of glue, the thirty-year-old trio multiplied prototypes, of varying thickness, until the ideal dose was obtained. “The key properties have to be adhesion and cohesion”, explains Thomas Cervetti. Under the effect of water or wear, the aggregate should not disintegrate. “Recovering waste to create new waste would be nonsense”, these globetrotters observe. Five shapes will be on sale this summer, from their website or at specialist retailers, from Saint-Malo to Saint-Jean-de-Luz, but also abroad. After installation, either in the shop or by the customers themselves, these inventors heartily recommended to “wait at least twelve hours before surfing”. The final product is made in Landes, by the company Agglolux, where Nomads Surfing is already collaborating for its cork pads, made from alcohol cork collected for the benefit of fighting cancer, another double virtue circuit .

“The social model is great”

The first copies will be a limited series. For experimental purposes, members of Grain de Sable carried kilograms of flip-flops from Africa in their suitcases, which, while on their way there, were used to carry clothes and games for the children. poor. “The social model is brilliant,” Nicolas Thyebaut said. The locals took all those slippers from the beaches, this is the first time they’ve made so much money. But ecologically, there are pros and cons, there are pros and cons. .The other side of the coin is the carbon footprint that will generate this mode of large-scale delivery.Also, the next flip-flops to be recycled will come from France.Partnerships are in the process of being finalized with brands. surfing or sporting goods in general.Like bottle caps, there will be collection bins.This is a new reflex to use.Don’t throw away your slippers.It sells “between 5 and 7 million” per year in our country.


This is Nomads Surfing’s latest project, which makes yoga mats by recycling Neoprene, the material that makes up surfing suits. Manufacturers of neoprene scraps or irregular suits are already giving him away.

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