21st Jun 2015 - Bottles to Boardshorts
Message in a bottle... Our ocean plastic journey
It's been three months now since our crowdfunder ended and we have started our #bottlestoboardshorts journey. Here’s an update how we’ve been getting on…
While it's hard to know exact figures, it is reported up to 8m tonnes of plastics enter the oceans each year. In the UK, we use 15 million plastic bottles per day of which only 50% are recycled. We launched our bottles to boardshorts campaign because we want to encourage customers to recycle but also to show that plastic bottles littering our beaches and oceans can be put to good use.
We’ve always talked about the Bottles to Boardshorts project as fitting together pieces of a jigsaw –getting the bottles on beaches to a recycling plant and then linking up the plant with a fabric manufacturer who can then send that fabric to our factory.
Through our partnership with the Marine Conservation Society, we now know that about 10% of the litter found through beach cleans are plastic bottles. We need close to 5,000 bottles to make 250 pairs of shorts so we are going to need to collect bottles at more than one beach clean! That’s why we’ve been in discussion with a number of beach cleaning charities and organisations who work with fishermen to find ways of sorting out plastic bottles and then amalgamating them to send to our recycling plant. Logistics are going to be challenging as we don’t want to use loads of fuel transporting the bottles from beach to plant. And we’re going to need somewhere to store all those bottles in the short term!
The reassuring thing we’ve learnt is that it doesn’t seem to matter how dirty or water logged the bottles found on the beaches are – they can still be recycled. But we do now know we can only use clear Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles to make our shorts which further increases the need to work with a number of beach cleaning organisations to source these.
It’s also been great to start to talk to recycling partners in the UK who can take our beach bottles and transform them into PET pellets or flakes. The bit of the jigsaw we now need to fit together is working out whether the company that currently make our fabric from recycled bottles can use PET flakes made from beach bottles instead. If so, we also need to test whether it can be made from 100% beach bottles or, for quality and durability’s sake, it needs to be made from a combination of beach bottles and standard recycled bottles (i.e the ones you put in your bag at home).
So, as you can see there are still a lot of questions for us to work on but we feel we are making great progress and learning loads on the way. How can you continue to help us? Two things: first join us for our beach clean on the weekend of the 5th and 6th September to collect bottles that will, ultimately, be made into shorts. Second, keep recycling the plastic bottles you do use as, ultimately, those could end up making our shorts too and we’d rather they avoided going into the ocean in the first place!.
If you have any thoughts about the Bottles to Boardshorts project please get in touch: email@example.com