This article was discussed in our Next Byte podcast.
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Who Is Patagonia?
If you reside in the U.S. then you might be familiar with the Patagonia clothing brand but if not, here's a quick breakdown: Patagonia was founded in 1973 by Yvon Chouinard with the simple goal of making high quality and sustainable outerwear. The company has grown substantially since its inception but it has always remained true to its core value of sustainability.
There are many ways that they've displayed their commitment to the environment ranging from their repair and resell programs and donating corporate tax savings to maintain natural resources but the company has a dedicated team of engineers focused on materials; specifically, how to utilize recycled materials without giving up performance.
Bureo is a startup that was founded in 2013 in Chile as the culmination of the efforts of friends who wanted to protect the oceans. They noticed that fisherman were dumping fishing nets in the ocean because they simply did not have the necessary infrastructure to properly dispose of them and as luck would have it, these fishing nets were made of highly recyclable plastics. And that is when the light bulb went on.
Their process is simple and effective:
- Pay fishing communities for the fishing nets that they can no longer use
- Employ locals to clean and sort the nets
- Setup facilities to process the nets and create plastic pellets for injection molding
- Partner with cool companies like Patagonia to make useful products
Bureo has collected 3.4 million pounds of discarded fishing nets so far to process and create their NetPlus plastic pellets that they supply to their partners. The partnership with Patagonia started off with replacing all the hat brims with NetPlus plastics but it has since expanded to cover a larger selection of items with no signs of slowing down. These efforts seem to be paying off as well since the duo have upcycled 100+ metric tons of plastic waste so far.
But it doesn't just end there. Bureo's diverse portfolio of partners has allowed NetPlus to be utilized in products ranging from hat brims to skateboards and office chairs which indicates that there are many potential partners out there who could leverage the benefits of NetPlus within their product line without compromising on quality.
The fight against plastic pollution is no easy task but innovative initiatives that propose a win-win-win scenario for the environment, manufacturers, and end users allow the average consumer to contribute to the efforts via one cool product at a time.