We have previously written about the ways scientists are trying to fight back against the rising tide of ocean plastic. Robots are being tested that can collect ocean waste and bring it back to shore, but what then? Luckily, corporations have taken note of the worldwide problem with plastic pollution and have developed processes to turn ocean plastic into new products.
In 2015, Adidas partnered with Parley for the Oceans in an attempt to turn plastic pollution into sportswear. The partnership has been a resounding success, with Adidas expecting to produce 11 million pairs of shoes made with recycled ocean plastic in 2019. For an item to be released in the Parley collection, it must be made from at least 75% marine trash, as well as meet all the same performance and comfort standards of Adidas’ other products. Currently, more than 40% of Adidas’ apparel uses recycled polyester, although they plan to replace all virgin polyester with its recycled counterpart by 2024. You have likely already seen items from this line without realizing it; Parley apparel is currently used in college sports, the NHL, the Australian Open and more.
Patagonia began manufacturing fleece made from recycled plastic bottles way back in 1993. Since then, they have continued to be a leader in using recyclables in new products. The company currently sells rain jackets made from Econyl, a 100% recycled nylon that utilizes discarded fishing nets as well as other refuse. In addition to their use of recycled materials, Patagonia also contributes to the environmental charity, 1% for the Planet.
Bureo was specifically created to develop solutions to our oceans’ environmental crises. Using derelict fishing nets, the company produces a material called NetPlus, which they use in a wide array of products from sunglasses to skateboards. So far, Bureo has diverted over 6.8 million square feet of fishing nets from the coastlines of South America. Patagonia took note of Bureo’s efforts and invested heavily in the company. Currently, Patagonia is collaborating with Bureo to integrate NetPlus into all of Patagonia’s hard goods and textiles.
United By Blue
The impact of United By Blue’s efforts to create ethically sourced apparel cannot be understated. For each item sold, they remove about a pound of trash from the ocean. Their board shorts alone call for 11 plastic bottles per pair. It’s no surprise that United By Blue has helped remove over 1.5 million pounds of trash from the world’s oceans and coastlines.
What could possibly be better than a comfortable pair of yoga pants? How about a comfortable pair of yoga pants made from recycled ocean plastic? Girlfriend Collective’s original leggings are made from 25 recycled water bottles each. In addition, their new LITE collection utilizes recycled fishing nets because, as their website states, “old water bottles and fishing nets look better on you than they do clogging landfills and polluting oceans”.
Finding new and exciting uses for discarded plastic is a great tool in the fight against plastic pollution. However, it’s not just corporations that can make an impact. Everyone can help by joining a beach cleanup, foregoing plastic bags in favor of reusable ones, or donating to one of the many nonprofits that focus on ocean pollution.