Five companies upcycling ocean plastic

  • News
  • May 9, 2017
  • The Register team
Five companies upcycling ocean plastic

According to the World Economic Forum there are over 93 thousand tons of plastic in the ocean. Here are five companies that have designed items made from the upcycling of ocean debris. 

Everything works in a circle, the manufacturing of plastic and the product can never be destroyed, only moved. So as plastic rubbish is thrown into the ocean it cannot biodegrade, and instead sits there for decades.

Last year, a study estimated that around eight million metric tons of our plastic waste enter the oceans from land each year.

A few companies have made the decision to launch ocean-plastic made items in effort to help clean the oceans and upcycle the dumped plastic.

Here are five items available for purchase that are rethinking how we use plastics with respect to function and desired lifetime of each product.

These companies show through their clever campaigns that discarded plastic should be considered a resource for capture and reuse, rather than simply a disposable convenience.


Activewear companies are known for using synthetic fibers and plastics in their products to make them more durable. Last year, Adidas partnered with Parley for the Oceans, an organization that provides a platform for designers, to focus on creating inventive, sustainable new products.

The ocean plastic is converted into a technical yarn fiber named Econyl, which offers the same properties as the regular nylon used to make swimwear.

According to Adidas design director Roger Hahn, the material is just as "cutting-edge as its polyester counterparts".

The new range features shoes, activewear and swimwear that are all made from recovered ocean plastic and run through a 3-D printer to create the new designs.

G-Star Raw x Pharrell Williams

Musician Pharrell Williams has worked with Dutch fashion brand G-Star Raw to create a denim collection made from waste plastic scooped up from the ocean.

G-Star RAW made the garments in the RAW for the Ocean collection from materials created by Bionic Yarn, which transforms recycled plastic into textiles.

Cavalier Bremworth

New Zealand company Cavalier Bremworth is launching a carpet made from Econyl. Econyl thread contains around 25 percent fishnet nylon.

The new carpets made from fishnet nylon are contributing to removing the estimated total of 640,000 metres of fishing net left discarded in the ocean.  

The textile industry is an enormous contributor to pollution and waste worldwide. In New Zealand alone, around 100 million kilograms of textiles end up in landfill each year.

The Italian company behind Econyl says its product has half the carbon footprint of virgin nylon made from oil, and can be recycled endlessly.


Although not made from recycled plastic, the Pollutoys made alongside Sea Shepherd are a new range of toys made to teach children about ocean pollution.

The ‘plushies’ all have zipped stomachs full of trash like bottles, shopping bags and cutlery, and are all made from the same plush material.

The line includes such models as Penny the Penguin, Darla the Dolphin and Waldo the Walrus, and all look very upset and downbeat.

Over a million tons of plastic gets thrown in the ocean yearly, causing the deaths of a million seabirds and 100,000 sea animals per year. And it’s forecast that – if we don’t change our ways – by 2050 the sea will contain more plastic than fish. 

The Pollutoys come with their own ‘story’ to teach children about harmful pollution.

Brodie Neill

Designer Brodie Neill has created a range of tables made completely out of recycled ocean plastic. Fragments of recycled ocean plastic are inlaid to achieve the terrazzo effect of the Gyro table.

The Australian designer , constructed the table from tiny pieces of plastic that have been salvaged from beaches around the world, including Tasmania, Hawaii and Cornwall.

Each piece was separated by colour before being processed and arranged into a plastic composite. The visual effect is similar to terrazzo flooring, which is usually made from marble or granite.

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