Sunglasses That Help Save the Oceans in Style

Catalan fishnets used to produce high end sunglasses
Sunglasses That Help Save the Oceans in Style Sunglasses That Help Save the Oceans in Style
Publ. date 10 Dec 2017
With the recent UN resolution on marine litter and microplastics adopted by all 193 member states and studies claiming that our oceans will contain more plastics than fish by 2050, ocean plastics is en vogue. Roughly 13% of these ocean plastics are accounted for by abandoned fishing nets. Not only do these nets contaminate our waters, before disintegrating they lead to “ghost fishing”: entangling and killing hundreds of thousands of sea animals. With fishermen as obvious key stakeholders in this global challenge, entrepreneur François van den Abeele found a way to truly engage them: making stylish sunglasses from plastic waste such as retrieved fishing nets.

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The Ocean Cleanup, François’ big inspiration for starting his glasses business, estimates that currently over 5 trillion pieces of plastic litter the ocean. Many initiatives are working vigorously to help solve the issue. Plastic Oceans Foundation, for example, educates and engages stakeholders in a conversation to rethink plastic and change the way we deal with plastic waste, and The Ocean Cleanup itself currently employs more than 65 people. With its newly developed technology, Boyan Slat and his team aim to commence the cleanup in 2018, and reach full-scale deployment in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by 2020.

How Sea2see came to life

Alarmed by the problem of ocean plastics, keen sailor François van den Abeele started Sea2see as a social enterprise in 2016. “After closing down a less successful venture, I was looking for high value consumer goods that could be produced from ocean plastics: glasses were the perfect answer. With the help of €45k of crowd funding, I was able to kick off Sea2see and as I have been living in Barcelona for many years, engaging local fishermen for me was a no-brainer.”

The Sea2see product development was one of many trials and errors, as their raw material proved to be precarious. It became clear that Sea2see needed only high quality waste. Once Sea2see succeeded in producing glasses that were up to spec, the company entered into agreements with port authorities from 22 ports throughout Catalunya.

Nowadays, with the help of private waste management companies, almost a ton of waste is collected, cleaned and sorted in a central location. After sorting, the usable material is up-cycled into pellets, shipped to Italy, moulded into glasses and painted in the desired colour. The glasses are sold in optical stores across Europe, and soon as well in Australia and USA. The non-usable materials are sold to third parties for re-use in other applications.

Sea2see Founder François van den Abeele

Coca-Cola, Unilever, MARS are working at it. What can you do?

Companies are already taking corrective actions. Last month, MARS, The Coca-Cola Company, M&S, PepsiCo, Unilever and Werner & Mertz made a pledge to use 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025 at the latest.

If you want to help save the oceans in style, order your glasses now and put them under your X-mas tree. Find your frame at Sea2see. And in case you don’t need any glasses, you can help by sharing the story of Sea2see. 

Inspired to start designing Value Propositions for the Circular Economy?

In case you would like to accelerate circular economy programs within your company with business design thinking, the Circular Economy Sprint can help you get going. For more information, please contact Jan van der Kaaij, Managing Partner, at jan@finchandbeak.com or call +31 6 28 02 18 80.

Note:  Finch and Beak has no commercial ties or interests with Sea2see.

About Jan van der Kaaij

Sustainability expert in strategy development, DJSI and sustainable innovation, with a hands-on approach and always committed to go for the max. | jan@finchandbeak.com 

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