Two Surfers Start Company That’s Pulled Nearly 10 Million Pounds Of Garbage Out Of The Ocean
Two surfers have cleared almost 10 million pounds of garbage from the ocean through the company they set up after being horrified at the sight of trash-ridden beaches.
Andrew Cooper and Alex Schulze established 4Ocean after embarking on a post-college trip to Bali, Indonesia in 2015, where they hoped to enjoy golden beaches and surf the waves in clear oceans.
Instead, what they discovered were sands completely covered with trash.
Speaking to CNBC Make It about the sight, Cooper recalled seeing an ‘overwhelming amount of plastic’, including water bottles, food containers and plastic bags.
After asking a lifeguard why no one was doing anything about it, the pair discovered that despite the government’s efforts to clean the beaches, more trash kept washing up from the ocean.
In an effort to tackle the amount of waste clogging up the world’s waters, Cooper and Schulze came up with the idea of recycling the glass and plastic found in the ocean and using it to make bracelets.
Discussing the plan, the pair said:
We knew that we wanted it to be gender neutral.
We knew that it didn’t need to be too much of a statement of your personality or your outfit – very subtle and subliminal – but still a talking point. And the bracelet just kind of evolved itself out of all that.
4Ocean sells each bracelet for $20, with the promise that the money from each purchase will fund one pound of trash removal. As well as selling bracelets, the company now stocks t-shirts, reusable steel water bottles and other products to help fund the its clean-up operations.
In the past three years, 4Ocean has helped recover 9,990,619 pounds of trash, with every pound documented and tracked to ensure clean-up crews are being efficient and effective.
The company has dozens of employees and collects rubbish with the help of boom systems, skimmers, fishing nets and vessels, as well as the old-fashioned method: cleaners using their own two hands.
4Ocean describes its process on its website, explaining that plastic is sorted by type, colour and condition before being sent to recycling partners for ‘flaking, washing, and pelletizing’. The pellets are then used to manufacture 4Ocean products.
The company explains:
While recycling is our highest priority, there are certain materials that are too contaminated, deteriorated, or economically not feasible to recycle in certain countries. We partner with various local facilities to find the most sustainable method of disposal for those materials.
After all other methods of recycling are exhausted, we are sometimes forced to dispose of the materials through thermal treatment, which is the conversion of trash to electricity, or by responsibly landfilling the materials.
As well as cleaning the ocean, 4Ocean addresses the causes and impacts of ocean plastic pollution in an effort to educate people on the subject and prevent further littering.
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