Rip Curl is well aware that their wetsuits are not made without causing some environmental impact and unsustainable resource extraction. However, they are transparent in regards to the issues in wetsuit technology and production. For this reason, I will give the Rip Curl Flashbomb 1/3 planets as a result of using mostly limestone neoprene, but having a good supply chain manufacturer and transparency in regards to production and materials.
The Rip Curl Flashbomb wetsuit is the highest model and quality made wetsuit by the Australian surf retail giant. The main material the wetsuit is made of is *E5 Neoprene* with Rip Curl’s flash lining that creates paddle flexibility. However, historically neoprene in past wetsuit manufacturing has been sourced from petroleum. Over the last decade wetsuit technology has shifted from petroleum sourced neoprene to limestone sourced neoprene. Despite this, some manufacturers claim that the use of limestone neoprene still isn't a green solution. According to an article in the Australasian Surf Business Magazine (ASB). Cameron Lamperd, Rip Curl's wetsuit chairman, told ASB that Rip Curl's wetsuits are made with 90% limestone based neoprene. Nonetheless, the environmental impacts of sourced limestone are still very unfamiliar. Like petroleum and oil, limestone is a non-renewable resource that is limited and mined from earth. Limestone production is a huge industry leaving large carbon footprints in the extractive process. For this reason, Rip Curl doesn't market their wetsuits as “green” in any way. There simply isn't a lot of green alternatives or innovative technology in wetsuit manufacturing. Patagonia was the first innovator to steer away from mainly neoprene wetsuits and created a “greener” wetsuit using recycled polyester and chlorine free wool in the lining. Yet, the wetsuit still has neoprene stitching. Patagonia is very aware of this and is trying to further innovate a greener wetsuit.
As mentioned in the “What It’s Made Of” section, wetsuits are made with neoprene that is formed into “buns” and then cut into sheets.
Furthermore, various types of wool or other materials are laminated on the inside of the wetsuit for extra warmth. This wetsuit in particular, is a 4/3mm thick neoprene suit. Important to mention the thicker the neoprene the warmer the suit. The pattern, which includes fit, zipper placement, reinforced areas, ankle and wrist cuff closure systems, etc., are all designed with comfort and durability in mind in every wetsuit. The Rip Curl flashbomb is a chest zip which is most convenient and popular amongst all suits.
Rip Curl is based and founded in Torquay Australia. The company was founded in 1969 “made for surfers and built by surfers.” However, Rip Curl doesn't manufacture their own wetsuits. In fact, nearly all surf companies that make wetsuits have them manufactured by the same 3rd party company. For over three decades the Shecio group has specialized in the industry of creating high quality neoprene. Thus far Sheico has produced over 4.5 million wetsuits, supplying over 60% of the market demand. The Sheico group is based in Taiwan, but has over 11 production sites employing around 10 thousand workers. All of Rip Curl's wetsuits are made by the Sheico group in the Taiwan factory. According to Sheico, they have followed suit with social responsibilities and following results of increased globalization has led them to comply with the highest CSR standards. Along with this, they have obtained the Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) certification. Its 12 principles encompass HR management, employee health, environmental measures, as well as safety standards and export/import regulations.