Lonely Planet Writer

Plastic pollution from Catalonian coasts is being turned into trendy sunglasses

Around the beautiful coast of Catalonia, fishing vessels are on a new mission; to clear the oceans of plastic pollution and help it be recycled into trendy sunglasses.

Fishermen are helping clean Catalonia’s coastlines. Photo by Cultura Exclusive/Quim Roser

The scheme is the brain child of Sea2See, a company based in Barcelona who use the rubbish to create a range of fashionable and sustainable eyewear. All of their frames are made from 100% recycled plastic and each pair of sunglasses means 10 kg less waste in the ocean.

The company have agreements with the port authorities in the region, which help coordinate fishermen collecting the drifting plastic and bring it back to land. Approximately a tonne of waste is taken from the sea every three days and Sea2See separate what they can use and sell the rest to other companies who can use it for other products like thread. They estimate 90% of material collected can be reused and reformed into other goods.

The glasses are already on sale in some European countries. Photo by Sea2See

The stylish glasses are proving immensely popular and are available to buy online or in stores in Spain, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands with potential deals in the works for Australia and the USA. Founder Francois Van den Abeele was inspired to create the range to try and combat the huge pollution caused by the fashion industry. In the future he hopes to expand the range into sportswear and is in talks to potentially create similar operations in Senegal.

Plastic pollution is a huge problem for our oceans. Image by Maarten Wouters

Sea2See is not the only social enterprise project aiming to get fishermen involved in cleaning the world’s oceans of the estimated eight million tonnes of trash that ends up there every year. Earlier this year Thailand became the first country to join Upcycling the Oceans, a global initiative that aims to turn plastic rubbish into eco-friendly thread and clothing.