Share:

Eight million tons of plastic waste go into the oceans every year. For François van den Abeele an untenable condition: The glasses of his young company Sea2see are made of 100 percent recycled plastic waste, which was fished from the sea.

Believing the British circumnavigator Ellen MacArthur ( www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org ), by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish. Incredible eight million tons of material reach the sea every year - that's more than 250 kilograms per second. Some come from land over the rivers there, others come directly from the ships. Not included are not visible plastics, z. As in toothpaste or creams and many other products are included.

13 percent of the total plastic contamination of the ocean is caused by "ghost fishing," which is fishing nets (made from one of the strongest non-biodegradable plastics) that are lost, abandoned, or disposed of by fishermen at sea, forming waste islands and whirlpools that are hundreds of thousands kill marine mammals and fish.

In July 2016, Van den Abeele did not want to watch anymore; The father of two daughters founded the company, which is nicknamed Sea2See, and has since been producing sunglasses and frames from recycled plastic waste: "We collect nearly a ton a day on abandoned nets, ropes and plastic. Fishing communities are working together to dispose of plastic waste in more than 120 containers in 30 ports in Spain. "The fishermen are highly motivated to improve their poor image as polluters. A percentage of Sea2see's revenue goes back to environmental organizations.

François van den Abeele, who has worked as a shipbroker, reporter and documentary producer in world history, is convinced that consumers are becoming more and more environmentally conscious: The business studies graduate had nothing to do with glasses before, but the connection to the sea, sun, style and fashion was close to him.

Meanwhile, the Sea2see glasses are available in Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium. Negotiations with Australian and US distributors are underway. The 45-year-old is planning more models for skiing, snowboarding and other action sports. He also wants to expand the "collection area" for plastic waste beyond Spain: to Senegal and the local fishermen.

Where does your commitment to saving the oceans come from?

François van den Abeele: I love to live by the sea and go sailing, surfing and swimming. I feel great respect for this power of the elements. It's not just the ocean, it's nature in general - that's where I charge my batteries!

From the beginning, I've been following the Ocean Clean-up project (www.theoceancleanup.com), thinking that more needs to be done to create a product that could raise awareness about plastic garbage in the sea. In 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean! Is not it time to do something? After oil and gas, fashion is the most polluting industry, yet hardly anyone works sustainably here.

Would not it make more sense to produce less plastic products instead of recycling, as Greenpeace and BUND see it?

I fully agree that we need to control, limit or prohibit the use of many plastics, especially disposable plastics. But we have no control over it, so I believe that the best way is currently to offer consumers alternative products. We want to produce the first generation of recycled products that keep up with the exact quality, design and technical characteristics of the best non-recycled products. It is not necessary to waste the natural resources of our world.

How do you ensure that less waste gets into the oceans?

We work with fishing communities and have set up collection containers. Today, we collect, separate and select more than one ton of plastic waste per day, avoiding waste landed in the ocean or on land. We are currently working in Spanish ports and in discussions with developing countries in order to broaden our field of action and increase the direct social impact on fishing and coastal communities by educating them about plastic contaminants, but also providing financial incentives for them to dispose of the plastic waste collect.

Is recycled plastic different in eyewear production, are additional chemicals used?

Overall, the manufacturing process takes longer because we are involved in the collection of plastic waste in the ports and the upcycling process of waste is slow. The selection process is done by hand and a specific sorting key to obtain a homogeneous raw material that can be recycled. We do not use any chemicals in the manufacture of our pellets, our spectacle frames are made from 100% recycled materials. Once the plastic is recycled, we send the pellets to Italy, where the glasses are completely made by one of the most prestigious eyewear manufacturers.

How do you assess the potential in the markets of Europe and worldwide?

We sell in different European countries, but not all countries have the same sensitivity to the environment. The Germans are very sensitive to environmental and recycling issues and have been working here for decades. Our goal is to find German distributors who share our values ​​and are ready to pave the way for a sustainable change in the optical market.

They are active in the social networks on plastic waste.

We rely on a fashion accessory, the glasses that people can wear with pride. I appeal to all, but right now the opticians are our mediators to reach our customers. Personally, I engage myself additionally, I hold lectures in universities or companies over the positive effects of z. B. sustainable management. We do not sell glasses, but a statement. Our products make opticians and eyeglass wearers part of a sustainable movement. Sustainable eyewear will not change the world, but people who sell or wear it will.

Thanks for the interesting interview, Mr. van den Abeele!