• Future

The Plastic Fishermen at 4ocean: Success with Cult Wristbands

  • Future

The fight against plas­tic waste in the oceans has only just begun. But it already has some heroes who are achiev­ing consid­er­able success with­in the realms of possi­bil­i­ty. One of them is 4ocean - so far one of the few commer­cial­ly success­ful compa­nies clean­ing up the world’s oceans. 4ocean employs its own profes­sion­al crews to retrieve plas­tic and other harm­ful waste from the sea, rivers and coast­lines. In our news­room series Valdivia: Future, learn more about this pioneer­ing compa­ny — and how you can support it and bene­fit your­self in the process.

Waste Dispos­al as a Recipe for Success

Reduc­ing the pollu­tion of the oceans with plas­tic waste can confi­dent­ly be described as the task of the centu­ry. There are no quick solu­tions in sight. Some scien­tists doubt whether it will ever be possi­ble to complete­ly rid the oceans of this burden. This makes it all the more commend­able that compa­nies and projects are taking a stand against the flood of plas­tic and pessimism. This is partic­u­lar­ly true of 4ocean, a stroke of luck if you follow the words of co-founder and CEO Alex Schulze:

“When a friend and I start­ed the compa­ny, we were just two surfers trying to clean up the ocean. We never imag­ined that our humble little start­up would grow into a glob­al cleanup compa­ny that collects millions of pounds of trash from the planet’s oceans, rivers and coast­lines every year.”

Hope for Guatemala, too

Today, 4ocean is a glob­al­ly oper­at­ing compa­ny and has collect­ed over 15.4 million tonnes of plas­tic waste since it was found­ed in 2017. The compa­ny has long ceased to be limit­ed to collect­ing waste with its own crews and their 17 boats: Local forces produce the wrist­bands that have estab­lished 4ocean’s success story and are now sought-after collector’s items. 4ocean has bases in Flori­da, Indone­sia and Guatemala and has also built up some of the local waste dispos­al infra­struc­ture itself.

It was also the base in Guatemala that drew our atten­tion to 4ocean, as we are already active there through the Children’s Future Foun­da­tion (“Stiftung Kinderzukun­ft) and are there­fore keep­ing a clos­er eye on the coun­try as a whole. 4ocean is primar­i­ly work­ing to prevent plas­tic waste from enter­ing the sea in the first place. The main base is locat­ed in the harbour town of Puer­to Barrios, with two branch offices in the coastal towns of El Quet­za­l­i­to and San Fran­cis­co del Mar. From there, the 4ocean plas­tic fish­er­men work on the open sea, in the estu­ary of the heav­i­ly pollut­ed Rio Motagua and along the coasts of the Gulf of Honduras.

From Plas­tic Waste to Collector’s Item

4ocean’s success is based on a simple idea: the salvaged mate­r­i­al is sort­ed, recy­cled where possi­ble and in some cases trans­formed direct­ly into prod­ucts for the exten­sive 4ocean shop. A prime exam­ple of this are the numer­ous bracelets, some of which are designed by artists. With purchase prices start­ing at 20 US dollars, the collec­tion and process­ing of 5 US pounds (approx. 2.27 kg) of waste is financed. In addi­tion to the bracelets and other jewellery, the shop offers cloth­ing, house­hold and toiletries, bags and much more — from sustain­able produc­tion, most­ly made from recy­cled plas­tics and always with a subsidy for the work of 4ocean.

Compa­nies can purchase the popu­lar ribbons from 500 pieces at a price of 15 US dollars each — for exam­ple as give­aways for customers or at trade fairs, for their own employ­ees and team events. Here, too, each ribbon repre­sents 5 US pounds of waste removed. 500 wrist­bands there­fore already “buy” over 1.1 tonnes less waste in the sea.

Part­ner­ship Models for Companies

4ocean also offers compa­nies vari­ous part­ner­ship models — and a promo­tion­al advan­tage: “Part­ner­ing with 4ocean means taking part in a glob­al clean-up. We collect plas­tic that pollutes the oceans with trans­paren­cy, account­abil­i­ty and trace­abil­i­ty audit­ed by third parties to ensure compli­ance with high standards.”

In addi­tion to dona­tions, e.g. by purchas­ing a ribbon, the “Cleanup Spon­sor” model is partic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ing for compa­nies in the construc­tion and prop­er­ty sector: you finance the collec­tion of a certain amount of waste and thus raise aware­ness of your services, events or other activ­i­ties. 4ocean offers “Ocean Plas­tic Neutral” certi­fi­ca­tion to manu­fac­tur­ers of plas­tic prod­ucts. Retail­ers can utilise vari­ous coop­er­a­tion models, includ­ing as resellers of 4ocean products.

Valdivia and the Sea — a Profound Connection

Deep draft in perfor­mance, passion for the sea — that’s how we found our name Valdivia. Because “Valdivia” was the name of the German research vessel that set off on a system­at­ic explo­ration of the deep sea in 1898. The expe­di­tion was led by the zool­o­gist Carl Chun (1852 — 1914) from Höchst, now Frank­furt am Main. Equipped with the most modern research facil­i­ties of the time, the Valdivia was able to plumb ocean depths of up to six kilo­me­tres and more. It also had special nets devel­oped by Carl Chun, with which it could collect flora and fauna at almost any depth and bring them to the surface for examination.

(Image source: istockphotos)

(Text sources: https://www.4ocean.com/pages/missionhttps://www.4ocean.com/pages/partnerships)