Commercializing the Rising Tide of Ocean Plastic (via GreenBiz.com)
Last September, Method announced plans to develop bottles made from collected ocean plastic. In the company of EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, Method co-founder Adam Lowry described our work to collect plastic from the beaches of California and Hawaii and convert them into new, recyclable bottles for method soap.
So, what have we been up to since then? Mostly cleaning beaches.
Method has participated in, alongside partners Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and Kahuku Hawai’i Foundation, several beach cleanup days that resulted in collecting several thousand pounds of beach debris. The primary challenge encountered in these cleanups, aside from hauling hundreds of pounds of plastic from remote beach locations, has been retrieving the plastics before they degrade to tiny particles that are effectively impossible to collect in large quantities.
The range and quantity of plastic in the oceans is astounding. The debris collected from these beaches has varied from fishing baskets made of polypropylene to Russian shampoo bottles and Japanese bleach bottles made from HDPE, to car bumpers, ropes, water bottles, and buoys.
Although these cleanups have allowed us to gather plenty of plastic, they face real challenges of scale in creating a lasting supply chain. Fortunately, we’ve found some great potential partners. One is United by Blue, a Philadelphia-based fellow B Corp that designs and sells apparel to support its beach and waterways cleanup activities. United by Blue have been cleaning beaches at an impressive rate (over 1 pound of debris removed per shirt sold), and we hope to source from them the plastics we can use for our Ocean Plastic bottles (resins number 2, 4, and 5). And our partner organizations in Hawaii continue to be instrumental in diverting the immense amount of plastic that washes up on their beaches from the landfill and into our bottles.