It’s an unsightly plight and causing damage to marine life globally, as plastic from our lifestyles ends up in the oceans. According to data UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) eight million tons of waste ends up in our seas every single year, 640 thousand tons of fishing nets abandoned at the bottom of the ocean.
Such alarming data advises, unless the situation changes, by 2050 our seas may contain more garbage than fish. It is time to address this, and this is where many NGOs are moving in to clean up the oceans. The consumer is keen, evident with Adidas x Parley reaching over one million pairs of shoe sales and the launch of an ocean waster apparel collection.
One such initiative is Healthy Seas, where several companies share a communal mission, cleaning our planet’s water from pollution, including the ghost fishing nets which kill so many marine creatures.
Italian textile mills Carvico and Jersey Lomellina have supported this mission since 2016, which makes sense as they are strong European suppliers in circular and warp knit swimwear fabrics. Their commitment to honesty and transparency is key, steering away from the ‘greenwashing’ that is infiltrating the industry.
The choice of fiber they go to is Econyl yarn from Aquafil, a 100% regenerated nylon yarn derived from pre and post industrial waste such as discarded fishing nets, carpet fluff (the top part of Nylon carpets which have got to the end of their useful life): all such materials, once they have reached the end of their useful life, instead of being disposed of in the landfill, are recovered and regenerated by means of a complex chemical-physical process.
Aquafil, the manufacturer of Econyl works closely with fishing communities to enforce preventive actions to reduce the pollution caused by discarded fishing nets and to find new solutions for disposing of them in a financially and environmentally sustainable way. In producing the yarn, waste is collected and taken to a regeneration plants where the recycled nylon yarn is produced.
This collaboration with the fishing industry is also key to Seaqual’s success. Fishermen drag the ocean bed of waste for Seaqual to process into recycled polyester fibers. Based in Spain and with close collaboration with the fishing industry through to the spinning and knitting sector, this new approach to ocean cleaning is showing a responsible feedback with a B2B efficiency ensuring the success.
With water sports on the increase, from scuba to kayaking, kite surfing to supping, the story of recycled synthetics plays well for brands to communicate with consumers.
Brit-based swimwear Brand, Fatface has launched a new sustainable swimwear range with Mipan regen fiber from Hyosung, made from recycled nylon and significantly reduces energy consumption. An eco-friendly product that has acquired Control Union's Global Recycle Standard (GRS) certification.
The vociferous demands of the consumer on eco-conscious aspects has led and engaged many brands to address their sustainability issues and social economic responsibilities.
Whilst it is encouraging to see recycled bins for plastic bottles and paper dotted in urban areas globally, with Shanghai the latest city to launch recycling facilities in July this year, to even the most obscure of places. It does seem not everyone is getting the message.
New initiatives for single use plastic in terms of plastic bottle tops collected in sea urchin-inspired containers at coastal resorts have popped up, but there is still a sense of dismay when the beaches empty for the day and litter, especially plastic bottles are left behind.
While the Swedish concept of plogging (picking up litter jogging) maybe an interesting angle on the sports front, the attitude from many responsible consumers is: "why should we clean up after others?” And they have a point, why indeed. So, whilst there is a demand for recycled synthetics, there is also a need for education, in that we are all in this together. So at the end of the day make sure you take your rubbish and dispose responsibly! No more plogging required.