Plenty of products proudly promote the fact that they contain recycled ocean plastic. This could be plastic waste that was dumped in the ocean. Or it could be ocean plastic that has washed up on shorelines. It could also be “ocean-bound” plastic litter that is making its way to the ocean. What’s important is that these products make use of plastic waste that would otherwise be spoiling waterways and harming ecosystems and wildlife.
An emphasis on reducing single-use plastics and eliminating plastic litter is essential for protecting the planet. Recycling ocean plastic is also worthwhile, especially if it’s used to make new items that are durable, functional, and aesthetically pleasing. By recycling ocean plastics, we reduce the need for more oil to create new, virgin plastic. In addition, products that make use of this debris encourage the retrieval of the plastic littering our planet.
Here are just a few of the products and projects that are using recycled ocean plastics.
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Recycled Plastic Lumber
Patrick K. Simpson, an engineer from Alaska, received a grant from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a project that involves designing and producing planks from assorted hard plastic debris that floats. Some of his Recycled Plastic Lumber prototypes are 100% ocean debris. He is also working on a lumber product that is a mix of ocean debris and other recycled plastics. The plastic lumber is intended for outdoor uses like stairs, fencing, retaining walls, pavers, and tables, he says.
Simpson’s project also includes designing mobile recycling equipment so ocean plastic can be recycled where collectors retrieve the debris.
Ocean Plastic Mouse
“Recycled ocean plastic is made from plastic waste that is recovered from oceans and waterways, cleaned, and processed into recyclable plastic resin pellets,” says the Microsoft website referring to the source of material used in its wireless Ocean Plastic Mouse. The outer shell of the mouse “contains 20% recycled ocean plastic by weight, or the equivalent of half of a 16-ounce water bottle,” according to the company website.
In addition, the mouse packaging is plastic-free and made from recyclable wood and sugarcane natural fibers.
Playing With Ocean Plastic
An adaptation of the original Jenga wood block stacking game, Jenga Ocean uses blocks that are formed out of 100% recycled fishing nets that have been discarded in the ocean. The plastic blocks feature threatened marine life designs by surfer and artist Lake Buckley. Jenga® Ocean encourages players to “Save the Animals” through special edition rules.
The product comes in 100% recycled packaging that is also recyclable.
Jenga Ocean blocks are made from recycled fishing nets sourced through Bureo’s Net Positiva recycling program. Bureo is the same company that brought us the world’s first skateboard made from recycled fishing nets.
Ocean Sole is an initiative in Kenya that removes trash from oceans and shorelines and provides employment opportunities to Kenyans. Among those employed are artists producing vibrant sculptures of elephants, rhinos, and other animals from flip-flops washed up along the beaches and waterways of Kenya.
The proceeds from sales of these sculptures help support marine conservation efforts and Kenyan communities.
Adidas collaborates with Parley for the Oceans to use recycled ocean plastic waste in high-performance exercise gear. Adidas calls it “… reimagined plastic waste, intercepted on remote islands, beaches, coastal communities, and shorelines, preventing it from polluting our ocean.”
Toothbrushes and Razors
Useful Reminders of the Plastic Problem
Purchasing products formed with recycled plastic litter from waterways feels nice. Even better, use that product as a reminder to take other actions to protect the planet.
“Thirty-three billion pounds of plastic enter our ocean every year — that’s the equivalent of two garbage trucks full of plastic being dumped into the ocean every minute,” says Melissa Valliant, senior communications manager for Oceana, an ocean protection organization.
“For those consumers who want to help curb the plastic pollution problem, there’s nothing wrong with purchasing products made with ocean plastic, but the real power lies in their vote and their voice,” Valliant states. “Reversing plastic pollution will require bold legislative change,” she says, and you can help by doing any of the following:
- Register to vote and vote for political candidates who support the regulation of single-use plastic.
- Contact your elected officials and urge them to pass policies to reduce single-use plastic.
- Work within your community to eliminate plastic waste at a local school, religious organization, or another gathering place.