LOS ANGELES — Ryan Harris is a longtime surfer who started his company Eco By Ry to make sustainable surfboards. But seeing how much waste is created in the process, he began using the leftover trash to make new things.

What You Need To Know

  • AltaSea is home to researchers from USC, UCLA and Caltech, as well as famed oceanographer and explorer Dr. Bob Ballard

  • The Center for Innovation in Berth 58 is part of AltaSea’s $30 million renovation of three historic warehouses

  • In July 2023, AltaSea broke ground on the transformation of three 100+ year-old historic warehouses into modern spaces for cutting-edge research, education, workforce development and innovation

  • To fund the renovations, AltaSea received $29 million in contributions from the State of California, Port of Los Angeles, and private donors that went toward the renovation of three warehouses

“I started upcycling my surfboard trash into a network of molds,” he said.

Items such as soap dishes and plates are created by taking shredded surfboard garbage, mixing it with a bio epoxy adhesive and putting it into molds.

But now, Harris is taking this concept a step further, creating a nonprofit called ECOSS that shreds plastic to make a dent in the plastic-pollution crisis.

“Now, we’re actually taking outside waste, not just my surfboard production waste, and upcycling plastic trash,” Harris said.

Harris’ company is just one of the many tenants at AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles, the world’s largest ocean research center bringing business, education and science all under one roof.

The campus is having its grand opening at Berth 58, the first of three fully renovated historic warehouses.

CEO Terry Tamminen said the modern campus will find ocean-based solutions to climate change and create jobs in the emerging blue economy.

“As a nonprofit, we’re interested in climate solutions from the ocean at scale now,” Tamminen said. “We’re excited by the fact that by being in Los Angeles, we can share this vision and these solutions with everyone and make everyone part of the blue economy.”

(Spectrum News/Sarah Pilla)

AltaSea broke ground on the three 100-plus-year-old historic warehouses last year. They received $29 million in funding from the state, Port of LA and private donors.

Together, the three warehouses will enable AltaSea to accommodate dozens of academic and commercial tenants focused on the ocean to tackle the most pressing climate issues.

“Because 70% of the planet is ocean, we have to be able to restore it to health and then use it sustainably for our food and our fuel — and our research of the future,” Tamminen said.

As a tenant, Harris credits AltaSea with helping bring his vision to life because it wasn’t until this past winter’s El Nino rain events — and seeing the amount of plastic trash at the beach — that the lightbulb went off for him that he could use his high-density shredder for plastic waste, not just surfboards, to make a difference.

The AltaSea campus exists to nurture every idea and ocean-based solution to turn the tide in the fight against climate change.