Huge amounts of plastic waste have accumulated in the world’s oceans and coastlines, and plastic waste islands in the Pacific Ocean alone are some three times the size of France. While various initiatives are working to collect this plastic waste, Swiss startup Tide Ocean wants to recycle it into new products.
Tide Ocean teamed up with the Institute of Materials Technology and Plastic Processing (IWK) at the University of Applied Sciences in Rapperswil (HSR) to develop a process that makes it possible to recover high-quality plastic from ocean plastic waste damaged by UV rays and salt water by lengthening the molecules of the material. The ocean plastic waste is fished out of the sea in Asia, where it is sorted, chopped and cleaned. The material is then processed in Switzerland into high-quality granules using the process developed at the HSR.
The granules can be used to create new products such as furniture, clothing and manufactures. American jewelry maker Jason Jewelry already offers jewelry from the new plastic, a project that the Fossil Group, another U.S. company, has been following closely from the outset. A cruise operator is interested in using the recycled plastic for its key cards. In addition, Tide Ocean has direct access to a key supplier to the Swiss watch industry: the Braloba Group, a watchstrap manufacturer, has invested in the startup.
Tide Ocean has now won the first-ever Swiss Plastics Expo Award in the sustainability category. The award was announced in Lucerne on Wednesday. “This award is important for us,” said Beat Bähler, CEO of Tide Ocean. “It is recognition of three years of work and innovation.