In 2019, The Ocean CleanUp harvested its first load of plastic waste from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch during a pilot test of its trash-fighting technology. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the part of the North Pacific Ocean where marine debris ends up.
But the non-profit organization's goal is not only to collect garbage from the ocean but to make innovative solutions by creating usable products from ocean garbage.
Recycling trash from the ocean has proven to be challenging as the materials they got from the ocean have already been there for many decades, said Boyan Slat, the CEO and founder of The Ocean CleanUp.
The material which stayed for too long in the ocean are already brittle and has degraded, not to mention mixed with other garbage. That makes recycling challenging, and at some point, they doubted that they could do it. Luckily they did and is now introducing their first product to the market.
From Trash to Treasure
On October 24, The Ocean CleanUp announced its latest creation, a pair of sunglasses with frames made from the plastics found in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
According to Slat, the sunglasses costs $199 and are now available on their website. All proceeds will go to the company's mission of removing plastic waste from the ocean.
According to CNET's report, The Ocean CleanUp sorts and cleans the different types of plastic before shredding it to form small green pellets molded into different products like frames for sunglasses.
"The purchase of one pair of sunglasses will fund the cleanup of up to 20 football fields of plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch," Slat said.
The Ocean CleanUp uses its cleanup tool called System 001 or also called Wilson, to collect plastics from the ocean's surface. It is a U-shaped floating barrier that is 2,000 feet long.
The non-profit organization has first proven its effectiveness in cleaning up plastics with their interceptors that catch garbage floating down the rivers. As of now, they have three of them in the Dominican Republic and Indonesia.
The Ocean CleanUp Sunglasses
In their press release, The Ocean CleanUp said that despite the materials coming from discarded plastics in the ocean, they wanted to give value to it by turning them into usable products.
From the plastics in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the North Pacific Ocean comes sunglasses that looks so cool that the wearer would not want to lose. The plastics used in this product were removed from the patch back in 2019 and then went through the extensive process to become safe to use for the sunglasses.
The non-profit organization worked hand-in-hand with the renowned designer Yves Béhar and eyewear company Safilo to create the sunglasses. The company said that they aim for the sunglasses to be evocative of the ocean to remind the wearer where the materials came from and what they are protecting.
The sunglasses have lenses that are polarized to protect the wearer from the harmful UV rays. It also has a QR code in its frames that lets the wearer link the sunglasses to them and show others their impact by buying the sunglasses.
It has a unique hinge design that can easily be disassembled and can be recycled by material type should the owner decide not to use it anymore.
Read More: Machine Learning and AI Can Now Create Plastics That Easily Degrade
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