How Ogoori Beats Ocean Plastic Waste #beatplasticpollution
Production waste from ropes and nets that can be reprocessed at NOPREC facility. Photo: Lars Urheim / Ogoori.
Ogoori will work to clean up a half-century of plastic waste floating in the ocean. Marine plastic waste will be collected from nature and stored into products in a closed loop. This is to stop the plastic from polluting the environment ever again.
Norway may be praised for recycling 97% of their plastic bottles, but this is only a step towards the right direction. It is estimated that an overwhelming 8 million tonnes of plastic still end up in the world’s ocean every year.
Plastic is not only detrimental to marine life and human health but it can also take over 400 years to degrade. Plastic can break down by sunlight into smaller pieces that becomes microplastics which is 5mm or less, unseeable to the human eye.
In Norway, a study has shown that half of over 10 000 tonnes of microplastic from different processes end up in the ocean each year. Most of this microplastic come from car tires, paint, rubber granules from artificial turf and textiles.
Since the early 1950s, a study has estimated that more than 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced. The source of this is the popularity of single-use plastics that wraps our food, bottled water, carry our coffee and straws. Ogoori recognises that in order to truly regenerate our degraded nature and stop more wildlife from dying, the plastic needs to be collected and stored in objects so that it does not enter nature ever again. This is what we call PCS “Plastic Capture and Storage”, a nod to CCS “Carbon Capture and Storage” and a hope that PCS will develop faster than that technology.
Plastic Capture and Storage
In 2020, Ope and Vestre, together with Environmentalist Rune Gaasø, have founded the company Ogoori, which will offer traceable plastic raw materials collected from the ocean with a guarantee of origin. A large fraction of the plastic is collected by volunteers from all over the world, through the organisation In The Same Boat on their cleanups along the Norwegian coastline. The 100% ownerless ocean plastic will be tracked through blockchain technology from technology partner Empower. The goal is to upcycle 500-1000 metric tons of ocean plastic to new raw materials in 2020 alone.
A Community to Regenerative Nature
What we need now is a massive restoration of degraded nature, and reviving materials that have gone astray. That’s where re-generativity comes in. If we are to have growth in the economy, we must manage to achieve it by cleaning up everything that has gone astray; whether it is returning industrial areas to nature, the extraction of CO2 from the atmosphere, or the cleaning up of plastics in the sea. Meanwhile, it doesn’t help to clean up if the tap is not closed as well, so the solutions require cooperation on multiple levels. The latter is what Ogoori will focus on.
Ogoori represents a community of beach cleaners, waste-, plastic- and finished goods industries as well as their customers, who jointly take responsibility where others have not, and create a truly regenerative and sustainable economy.
Backed by Researchers
It has been assumed that the ownerless ocean plastic has no value, as it is broken down by sunlight, mechanical wear and consists of a mix of different plastic materials. In addition, it is difficult and expensive to clean it up and recover it.
However, through a preliminary project in 2018, the research institute SINTEF verified for the parties Ope, Vestre and then partner Fjord Fiesta, that ocean plastic is functionally capable for use in products. Ope and Vestre has also been collaborating with researchers since 2018 for the CIRCit Norden research project which included six work packages on business models and circular economy. With the constant feedback and input between both researchers and the companies, this can ensure a truly, systemic change that implements the triple bottom line – People, Planet and Profit. Though Lars Urheim, CEO of Ope, included a fourth P that represents ‘Purpose’. This would focus on activities that affects future generation in the future, so that companies are held accountable.
This is where the collaboration with the blockchain company Empower becomes even more important. Empower has developed a blockchain-based system for documenting the origin of plastic. In this way, precision and trust are attained in where the plastic was collected from. This safeguards the project’s purpose and ensures that it is ownerless plastic that is being included in the new value chain. Through several iterations and placement at customers, the plastic can in time create a story of its own, further adding to its value.
Marine Plastic For Rent
“The world is going through a restructuring process, and Vestre hopes that Ogoori can be a showcase for how we can break the correlation between economic growth and the consumption of resources. The development of Ogoori will be important for the whole Vestre Group, and will hopefully inspire others as well,” says Jan Christian Vestre, Vestre’s CEO.
The high cost is resolved by Ogoori simply not selling the material. Marine plastic is made available to the industry through a rental model, where the long life of the plastic ensures a manageable price for the customer. As far as Ogoori knows, it seems that nobody else offers raw materials as a service.
"We want to rent out the plastic to make sure that it never enters nature again, get incinerated or end up in the landfill," said Ogoori co-founder and chairman, Rune Gaasø.
A Story Included In The Price
Ope and Vestre also know that this plastic carry something that neither new plastic nor re-circulated plastic from households and industry has, namely a strong history. The plastic is lifted out of nature piece by piece by volunteer and professional beach cleaners through a huge joint effort so that it will not waste, contaminate, be eaten by marine species, or broken down into microplastics in the future.
“Our customers can help make this story a reality, by utilizing the plastic and benefiting from its inherent value through quality product and service solutions,” says Lars Urheim, the driving force behind Ogoori and Ope’s CEO.
Customers will get access to stories of the beach cleaners, and more. All of Ogoori’s profits will be recycled into more clean-up operations – as long as there is plastic to be found in the ocean.
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