Comfortable and credible sustainability
Tom Cotter, Founder of OceanR, explains a more transparent approach to the sustainable production of recycled fabrics…
Sustainable growth in the superyacht industry is a game of incremental gains. Comfortable and stylish crew uniform that complements a yacht's aesthetic is essential to the day to day operations of an efficient yacht. Often replaced at great expense, and for larger and larger crews, many conscientious management companies and interior heads of departments are looking for more responsible suppliers.
Simply using recycled materials is not the whole story. OceanR creates fully customised swimwear, casual wear and crew uniforms with a sustainable system wide approach. SuperyachtNews speaks with Founder Tom Cotter, about how OceanR’s policy of transparency in a greenwashed market aims to supply great products with real sustainability credentials.
OceanR products use a combination of recycled polyester and organic cotton, as do many major brands. However, as stressed by Cotter, transparency is the key to credibility in the increasingly competitive eco market. Recycled ocean plastic, for example, has seen extensive marketing from big-name brands that incorporated it, at least partially, into their ranges.
There are three screams of ocean plastic, Cotter explains; “One comes from recycled polyester like from plastic bottles, one comes from recycled fishing nets, and one comes from recycled ocean waste, but they are complex to incorporate into recycled fabrics.”The romanticised vision of rescuing a marine mammal from a piece of floating plastic, which is then seamlessly turned into a pair of sneakers is disingenuous. Ocean plastics that have been recycled from a life spent in the seawater have been degraded to the point that usually only around five per cent of a recycled garment had its origin at sea.
Truly sustainable eco-wear requires a long lifespan from quality products. A more realistic ratio, as applied by OceanR uses 95% recycled bottles. This gives its garments the comfort and lifespan expected from quality crew uniforms, coupled with tangible sustainability credentials.
“Instead of trying to pull the wool over the industry’s eyes,” explains Cotter “we have developed a unique and adaptable production method, facility and sustainable supply chain. We are flexible so that when even more sustainable solutions are presented, we will adopt them.”
I had the chance to speak with Cotter, and the team from OceanR at The Monaco Yacht Show, where they were one of just 11 companies to meet the high standards set by Water Revolution Foundation to exhibit in the sustainability zone. I had the chance to speak with Tom Cotter on the day:
OceanR sees sustainability coming from a more diverse range of projects, innovations and initiatives. Based in Ireland, a small country steeped in maritime history and lauded for its pristine ecosystems, much of the inspiration comes from closer to home. Part of a joint venture to collect discarded fishing nets from each of Ireland's 15 fishing ports, the effort to preserve these areas, and reduce the distance that collected plastic has to travel is a significant part of the equation.
There are still millions of tons of plastic in the ocean. Whether or not it can be recycled in some way into clothing, it still needs to be removed from the ecosystem. “As we have grown,” continues Cotter “one of the next ideas we have tackled is what we can do outside of recycling. That is where the partnership with Enaleia comes in.”
Enalia is a Mediterranean based NGO that is working to encourage ocean plastic cleanup in local communities. One such initiative involves working with hundreds of fishermen in Greece and Italy who are paid a subsidy to fish for plastic, and not fish. With every OceanR product purchased, one kilo of ocean plastic is funded to be removed via Enalia.
Sustainability in the industry does not stop with the purchase of a product with a green veneer. Superyacht crews should use their purchasing power to support initiatives that stand up to a higher standard of scrutiny and offer a diverse set of tangible and transparent solutions. Crew uniforms complement more than just that yacht's aesthetic, they can also reflect a changing onboard philosophy.
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