We all know that neoprene used in wetsuits is derived from oil and is far from environmentally friendly. There have been various developments over the years, but really the performance has not been comparable. Today there are real alternatives to neoprene - and the most of exciting of these is Oysterprene.
Aware of the environmental impact of neoprene, for over a decade of years Soöruz has been working to reduce its environmental footprint. This has involved developing new materials from renewable and/or recyclable material as well as using commercially available options.
Research + Development
Soöruz wetsuits started using bamboo and recycled polyester in 2013. Yulex (2013) and Naturalprene (2016) have also been major innovations. They showed there was a path towards making more sustainable wetsuits with higher performance. Not all options make sense though. Many wetsuits use limestone as opposed to petrochemical materials - this sounds more eco-friendly. The reality is that it requires a very energy intensive and non-renewable extraction process.
In 2018, Soöruz carried out the first oyster shell crushing tests in France (in La Rochelle). The search results enabled the creation of 2 new materials : the BIÖPRENE mainly biobased (from a mix of oyster powder, natural rubber, sugar cane, none food vegetable oil) present in the Greenline range (available from march 2020) and the OYSTERPRENE©, available from July 2020.
The process is very similar to limestone based neoprenes, and simply consists of replacing the limestone with a natural, recycled and renewable product made from grinding oyster shells. This solution maintains the wetsuits technical efficiency while helping to improve the environmental footprint without additional cost to the customer. It also uses significantly less water and energy.
Soöruz have made this innovation available for big market players, and proud to know that a major brand will rely on our technology from winter 2020. Following on from this, the tech is now available in almost all of the wetsuit models offered by Soöruz, not just the high end ones.
Real World Review
We have been riding Oysterprene Guru and Fighter suits for the last couple of years and could not be happier. The suits are the best we have ever had. They feel at least as flexible as anything else we have tried and they are lasting well.