With plastic waste topping the agendas as environmental scourge number one, a wide range of initiatives have emerged over the past year aimed at addressing the problem.
The Ocean Bottle, a reusable bottle made, for the most part, of stainless steel, is a case in point. Plastics News Europe talked to Nick Doman, co-founder, COO and CSO of the young start-up which is currently raising funds for the bottle via a campaign on the Indiegogo crowdfunding platform.
Why is the bottle called ‘Ocean Bottle'? What's the link with the ocean?
Our goal is to stop plastics from getting into the oceans by going to the source. Over 80% of ocean plastic stems from regions that lack the infrastructure to collect waste and recycle. We came up with idea to design and market a reusable bottle to fund plastic collection in these communities. Each bottle will fund the retrieval of 11.368kgs of plastic or according to our calculations, the equivalent of 1000 ocean-bound plastic bottles.
How does that work in practical terms?
We have partnered with the Plastic Bank for the actual collection of the plastic. The Plastic Bank, headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, has found a way to monetise plastic waste: its business model is based on local collectors who gather the plastic littering the environment and then trade this in for tokens which can be deposited in a digital account via a phone app. The Plastic Bank has developed a proprietary blockchain-based platform to foster the transparency and safety of the system. The tokens can be used to pay for food products, solar energy or even school tuition fees – thus helping to raise individuals from poverty.
What happens to the collected plastic?
Recycling facilities are set up locally to recycle the collected plastic - mainly LDPE, HDPE, PP and PET. The recycled plastic – called Social Plastic – is marketed to brand-owners and companies around the world, for processing in their products.
Where does the Ocean Bottle come in?
The funds we raise through the sale of our bottle are all sent to our partners at the Plastic Bank. 60% of funds go to plastic collectors. We want to grow this to a global team of millions of plastic collectors. The remaining 40% goes to the development of the local plastic collection infrastructure. We are looking to directly prevent over 3 billion plastic bottles each year from entering our oceans by 2025. Working with governments and other NGOs, we together have the key to do this.
How has the response to the Ocean Bottle been?
The kick-off of our crowdfunding campaign has been immensely successful. As a result of the global launch online, we've had retailers in Australia, UK, Norway, US, Japan and across the EU all showing interest in the bottle.
What's so special about the Ocean Bottle itself?
It's practical and it looks good, it also enables individuals to reduce their own plastic footprint! Designed by Norwegian design agency K8, it has a thermally insulated steel body, is leak-proof and easy to carry. It is easy to clean as it can go in the dishwasher. The cap is made from Total Corbion's PLA resin, the plastic base is made from up-cycled ocean plastic. Plus, each bottle has an NFC smart chip, which means that in future that owners can continue to fund plastic collectors when using their Ocean Bottle at our partner refill locations.
The bottle is being produced in China close to Shanghai, as we found a manufacturer who produces for other sustainable brands and is focused on both environmental benchmarks and product quality.
What's your launch timeline?
We reached 500% of our target raise in 5 days, so we are off to a great start. After the Indigogo campaign ends in March, pilot production will begin in April. By May, manufacturing should be underway. The first products will ship to early supporters in July, which will also be when eCommerce opens.
We're looking at tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands distribution in July, funding collection of millions of ocean-bound plastic bottles.