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Upcycling the Oceans collects marine trash and turns it into quality yarn

fisherman holding upcycling the oceans trash container

Type of organisation or company:

Spain, Other (Thailand)

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Project elaborated in partnership: 
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ECOALF began the project in September 2015 thanks to the support of the HAP Foundation. During this initial phase of the project, 9 fishing ports from the provinces of Castellón and Alicante decided to collaborate and they managed to remove more than 60 tonnes of trash. In June 2016, Ecoembes joined the project and thanks to their involvement, the project extended to the provinces of Girona, Barcelona, Tarragona and Valencia. 

The Ecoalf Foundation has managed to involve Spanish companies that are leaders in their respective areas (from waste management companies, technological centres and recyclers, to thread and fabric manufacturers) that will collaborate in this project and share their experience in recycling different types of debris (PET bottles, fishing nets, used tires, etc.) and the R+D accumulated through their international alliances with specialised technological recycling specialists.

The bales of PET are taken to a recycler that cleans and transform them into pellets by using sophisticated technological processes referred to as polymerisation. The pellets that are obtained are between 3 and 6 mm in size and they are prepared for the next step in the extrusion process.

Once Ecoalf’s required purity conditions and technical properties have been met, a continuous filament is created through the extrusion and spinning of the pellets.

Lastly, the thread is used to produce fabrics with properties and design of the same quality as top-of-the-line non-recycled materials.

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Main results: 
  • Upcycling the Oceans is now underway in 52 ports across the Spanish coast. Over 3,000 fishermen in at least 450 sea trawlers recover more than 200 tonnes of marine debris a year from the Mediterranean sea.
  • Ecoalf is set to launch a new Ocean Waste footwear collection in August 2018. This collection of sneakers is entirely made from recycled waste collected through Upcycling the Oceans.
  • Upcycling the Oceans is already being replicated to Thailand in partnership with the country's tourism authority and PTT Global Chemical Public. The three-year project focused on education and awareness raising first, but has already begun collecting, segregating and transforming waste on Thailand's beaches. The project is on schedule to transform raw material from this waste through Ecoalf's eco-friendly technology into stylish fashion items and accessories.