6 brands tackling ocean plastic waste

5 min read

Plastic in the oceans is a huge issue that affects the planet on a tremendous scale.

After watching A Plastic Ocean we got talking in the studio about the affects on our oceans, wildlife and in turn our health and wellbeing. Impactful action is needed to tackle this serious issue, and we really need to reevaluate plastic and start using more sustainable, environmentally friendly materials when designing.

“At least 8 millions tonnes of plastic leak into the ocean each year, which is equivalent to dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the ocean every minute. If no action is taken the ocean is expected to contain more plastics than fish by 2050.”- Ellen Macarthur Foundation 

Without action, we will be living in a world where there is more plastic in our oceans than fish! I find it hard to get my head around that appalling fact. A report from Plastic Oceans states:

  • Over 90% of all seabirds have plastic pieces in their stomach.
  • Around 40% of plastics float but these account for 80% of the plastic waste in the oceans.
  • Overall, plastic is the number one source of pollution in the ocean.

“Plastic is a design failure.” – Parley Oceans founder

But it’s not all doom and gloom! There are some value-driven brands starting to take action and create change. They’re doing this by repurposing ocean plastic into products or changing their systems of working to reduce waste and production of plastics in the first place.

We’ve picked some of the most interesting brands that are on our radar, and thought we’d share.

Adidas.

Adidas is the largest sportswear manufacturer in Europe, and the second largest in the world. They are pioneering the repurposing of ocean plastic with a vast product range that is constantly developing new products. Transforming marine plastic into sportswear such as trainers, swimsuits and t-shirts in collaboration with Parley

With their A.I.R approach – Avoid. Intercept. Redesign – Parley is an organisation where creators, thinkers and leaders explore ideas and co-create projects to end the destruction of the oceans. Supporting in research and development, education and communication, all of which are becoming even more important in tackling this issue.

Supercyclers.

The Supercyclers are an international collection of designers focussed in their practices on building a sustainable future into the products they create and transforming perceptions of waste materials.

They want to recycle plastic and create aesthetically pleasing products that people would love to buy for their homes and spaces. The Supercylers design collective have created objects from 100% recycled plastic collaborating with designers worldwide to create a functional yet aesthetically pleasing range including cups and bowls.

Bureo.

In collaboration with Patagonia Works, an incubator of new companies in the business of implementing solutions to the environmental crisis, Bureo are a group of surfers and environmentalists who are repurposing plastic fishing nets via their Net Positiva programme. Their recycling program provides fishing net collection points to keep fishing nets out of oceans; collecting discarded nets that account for 10% of all plastic pollution in the ocean. They’re currently turning those recycled nets into skateboards.


These surfers are on a mission to find innovative solutions to prevent ocean plastics. No doubt I’m sure we’ll be seeing more from them in the future.

Saltwater Brewery.

Saltwater Brewery is a microbrewery only using pure and natural ingredients in their handcrafted beers. They are passionate about sustaining the ocean and support ocean based charities like Surfrider, Ocean Foundation and MOTE.

Most plastic beer six‐pack rings end up in our oceans and pose a serious threat to wildlife. Saltwater Brewery have made something smart and useful – a marine animal friendly six pack ring which feeds, instead of kills, marine life! Made by using 3D printers, ‘The Edible Six Pack Ring is made from byproducts of the bring process, making it 100% biodegradable, compostable and edible.’ The packaging starts to disintegrate within 2 hours of being in the sea, and completely disappears within 2-3 months.

Method.

Method are a cleaning products company who make products using their smartclean technology® from naturally derived 98% biodegradable ingredients that are kinder to the planet.

Collections of plastic from Hawaii beaches with clean-up groups are part of their process in producing their ocean plastic bottles. Not only that, they are contributing to the circular economy by understanding their entire manufacturing ecosystem, working with key suppliers to track environmental impact and improve practices for environmental efficiency.

Dell.

Dell is one of the largest technology companies in the world. They are innovating in creating the first commercial-scale global ocean plastics supply chain, processing plastics found on beaches and using them as a part of their new packaging system.

Professional recycling organisations collect the plastics, after sorting and refinement Dell mixes the ocean plastic with other recycled plastics in 1:3 ratio. This allows Dell to manufacture 100% recycled products with 25% of the material coming from the oceans. The initial pilot project start by keeping 16,000 pounds of plastics out of the ocean with the ambition to scale to 200,000 pounds by 2025. We like a business with a meaningful vision.

Designing to do more.

We love seeing how brands are starting to take action but there is a lot more to do and only a few key heroes making a difference. Organisations such as The Ocean Cleanup and Plastic Oceans are making progress in cleaning up our oceans, they the help of brands and business that could be doing more.

Think of all of the plastic we use every day – water bottles, shampoo containers, lunch boxes – the list goes on. Brands have a responsibility to rethink the use of plastic and consider the circular economy where products should be designed in an eco-friendly and resource-efficient way – repairable and shareable. Repurposing products from ocean waste is one step but designers need to think about how they make products in the first place and use different materials to plastics.

At Common Good we work with inherently good brands to create sustainable solutions, always thinking of the bigger picture and the impact that products, services and businesses have on the world.