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In our special Earth Month edition of Set in Stone, we’re exploring the impact of the individual. Read on to see how the Okeanos team lent a hand around the world throughout the month. Elsewhere in the newsletter, we’re exploring the ways that brands are counting their carbon, diving into a new controversial Netflix documentary, and sitting down with our Chairman, Dr. Russ Petrie, to talk about circular economies and what’s next for Okeanos.

OKEANOS ® NEWSLETTER – APRIL 2021

Educated open minds foster creative thinking and innovation. Okeanos is proof that through innovation, conservation is possible. This is why Innovation, Education, and Conservation make up the rock-solid foundational pillars of Okeanos. Change is contagious – be empowered and empower those around you to take your neighborhood’s future into your own hands.

This month in honor of Earth Month, the Okeanos team from Brazil to Bangladesh hit the streets to volunteer, picking projects in their neighborhoods that furthered these pillars. From a beach clean-up at the mouth of the Santa Ana river, to interactive educational presentations with students from Argentina, the US, and Europe, our team brought these elements to life. Click here to peek at some of our favorite projects.


Did you know Okeanos offers employees quarterly paid volunteer days? Are you a dynamic, curious, motivated individual with a passion for preserving our planet? Good news! Okeanos is hiring for several roles! Are you or someone you know a fit for our global team?

Click HERE to apply!

 

A new Netflix documentary has the internet ablaze, with some of its toughest critics talking trash about the film’s questionable presentation of the facts. The controversial new film “Seaspiracy,” dissects the different ways humans’ actions are responsible for the declining health of our oceans. From bottom trawling to plastic pollution, filmmaker Ali Tabriz’ latest work is both horrifying and dramatic…but is it accurate? We dive into some of the films’ most controversial claims below.

Seaspiracy Says: If we continue abusing our marine environments at the current rate, all fish will be gone by 2048.

Science says: False. Based on a 2006 study by ecologist Boris Worm, this claim looks at a proposed trajectory of marine-life decline. A follow-up study co-authored by Worm in 2009 found that marine life had somewhat recovered, partially due to improvements in fisheries management.

Seaspiracy says: Fishing waste is responsible for more ocean pollution than plastic straws, claiming only 0.03 per cent of ocean plastic waste comes from straws.

Science says: Somewhat deceptive. The film misused this statistic, claiming that 46% of plastic in the oceans comes from fishing waste. According to Greenpeace, it’s estimated that fishing waste makes up a whopping 46% of the composition of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but approximately only 10% of the ocean’s overall plastic pollution.

Seaspiracy says: Bottom trawling is the most destructive form of fishing.

Science says: True. 3.9 billion acres of the seafloor are destroyed by bottom trawling every year, compared to 25 million on land. Bottom trawling also releases more carbon emissions than global aviation annually.

Seaspiracy says: Sustainable fishing is “impossible.”

Science says: False. According to the Marine Stewardship Council, “One of the amazing things about our oceans is that fish stocks can recover and replenish if they are managed carefully for the long-term.” Many coastal communities around the globe rely on local catch to survive. Fishing is an essential part of their local economies, diets, and ecosystems…research shows that fish stocks that are well-managed and sustainable, are also more productive in the long-term, meaning there is more seafood for our growing global population, which is set to reach 10 billion by 2050.”

Seaspiracy Says: Only removing fish from our diets entirely will save the ocean.

Science says: False. According to the FAO, about 4.3 billion people rely on seafood for 15% of their protein. It is unrealistic to imagine a scenario where coastal communities don’t utilize the resources in their own backyard to survive. It simply must be done more responsibly. For more references on how to eat sustainably sourced fish, check out Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch and NOAA’s FishWatch.

Want to sea the film for yourself? Stream it on Netflix today.

Send us your favorite environmental movies and we’ll do a deep dive in an upcoming issue of Set in Stone at social@madefromstone.com

We’re sitting down with industry leaders, innovators and environmentalists to discuss what sustainability looks like today, and where it’s headed. Our April edition of this column features a chat with Okeanos Chairman Dr. Russ Petrie to chat about the best way to move toward a truly circular economy, and what areas Okeanos is focusing on to accomplish this goal.

What does a circular economy really mean? How is Okeanos working toward that ultimate goal?

A truly circular economy prioritizes responsible manufacturing, recycling, and re-use in order to extend the life of a single product.

In order to be effective, any solution needs to be economically attractive and scalable at a global level. At Okeanos, it was important for us to develop an international network and focus on cost so that the developing world can participate. We work with compounders, converters and brand owners to understand where source reduction and recycling fits within their sustainability policies.

Okeanos products reduce the amount of plastic in packaging at the source. In terms of recycle vs re-use where does Okeanos fall?

We believe industrial recycling has many benefits and are looking to making our packaging solutions fit within the current recycling framework, while at the same time looking forward to innovation and supporting improvements in recycling technology.

We understand that certain polymers can be recycled many times while others have limited ability for repeated recycling. Certain minerals, however, can be re-used multiple times industrially and by the natural environment in biological and non-biological processes, with little or no manipulation. This takes advantage of another circular pathway.

What is an immediate goal Okeanos is striving toward?

Currently, we still use a small amount of polymer in some of our solutions. Our goal over the next few years is to be able to swap that out for post-consumer polymer and reduce the use of virgin polymer and increase the use of mineral to displace polymer.

The combination of calcium carbonate and polymer can be difficult to do with post-consumer polymer as some post-consumer product results in highly variable properties. By using post-consumer polymer, we would create the circular component of packaging.

What are the advantages to using higher levels of Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3)?

The advantage of using higher levels of calcium carbonate is that CaCO3 can be re-used indefinitely, and thereby displaces plastic in the initial production of packaging and each succeeding generation. And in that sense, we are achieving the dual goals of source reduction and circular material use, while dramatically cutting the CO2 emissions for its production.

In addition, this means that we are using a sequestered form of carbon as significant ingredient in packaging and potentially decreases CO2 release compared to other forms of packaging.

Are there challenges to using CaCO3?

One of the challenges of using calcium carbonate is density and making packaging light enough that it will comply with current recycling guidelines. The density is also a benefit, as it provides great barrier properties including protection from oxygen, moisture, and light. Our patented technology allows us to achieve density parity in film and thermoforming, and we are working toward applying the application of that technology to injection and blown molding.

In terms of Innovation, what’s your main focus?

Our goal for the next 3 years is developing additional “binders” or resins, natural and synthetic, that have the ability to be easily separated from calcium carbonate by industrial and natural environmental means so that we can re-use calcium carbonate essentially indefinitely in industrial applications. In addition, should packaging end up in a landfill, open environment or ocean the calcium carbonate can be re-used by natural geologic or biologic processes. The difficulty is using a binder or resin that can degrade in highly variable environments.

Another essential component in developing a new category of technology is research. How does Okeanos approach this?

To achieve understanding of how current and future binders degrade in the natural world we want to engage research organizations to help with real environmental testing. The type of research we’re hoping to execute mimics real world environments more-so than current “certifications” which rely on methodology that in many situations is not applicable to the real world. For example, certifications test marine degradability of bio-plastics at 40 degrees C (104 F). This is not a condition likely to be found in the real world, where surface temperatures in the ocean average 16 degrees C (60 F)!


Okeanos heads to South Africa!

South Africa is the original birthplace of biomimicry, home to the San people of the Kalahari Desert, who have been utilizing nature’s innovative packaging solutions like ostrich eggs, to carry food and water for 50,000 years.

While the country is known for its unbelievably diverse topography and being home to the “Big Five” safari animals, this stunning natural landscape is under threat from an even bigger beast – the rising tide of plastic pollution. Over 1 million tons of plastic is thrown away in South Africa each year.

Okeanos and our local partners have recognized the urgent demand for an innovative, easy-to-adapt, affordable solution, and are excited to announce that we are now on the ground, joining hands with our first stone and compound partner in South Africa. Trials in Johannesburg and Cape Town will begin at the end of April.

Interested in becoming one of our partners? Connect with us at
partnerships@madefromstone.com today! 

 

Ahead of Cinco de Mayo, we’re celebrating these awesome thermoformed salsa cups created with Made From Stone technology by letting you in on a family secret. Re-create this delicious pico de gallo recipe from Okeanos Social Media manager, Elise Perez at home!

Elise’s stepmom’s pico recipe (serves 4-6). For this recipe you’ll need:

  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 large white onion
  • 1 medium jalapeño pepper (include or remove seeds depending on likeness to spice)
  • 2-3 large limes
  • ½ cups of freshly chopped cilantro.
  • Salt
  • White pepper

Finely chop tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and jalapeños and mix into a medium size bowl add in lime juice and let sit for 10 minutes, stirring in 5-minute intervals to allow juices to absorb. Add in salt and white pepper to taste. Continue to let sit for 1-2 hours prior to absorb flavor adding in seasoning to help combine all the flavors. Serve cold or at room temperature with your chip, taco, or cracker of choice!

Ready to make your cups from stone? Email trade@madefromstone.com

This month’s Rockstar is Fazlur Rahman, Managing Director of Okeanos Bangladesh. With an insufficient waste-management system plaguing Bangladesh, and despite the government’s best efforts at passing sustainable legislation, Fazlur and his team have a huge opportunity to make measurable change with the introduction of Made From Stone technology into the region.

Tell us about your childhood. Did you spend time by the ocean?

Childhood memories leave an everlasting impression on one’s life. As a child, I was studious, and loved chess but always had a fondness for the ocean. Now, whenever I travel anywhere in close proximity to a beach, the ocean is the first place I have to visit. Here in Bangladesh, we have Cox’s Bazar which is the prime beach and tourist town, situated alongside the beach of the Bay of Bengal, beside the Indian Ocean. It’s an unbroken 120 Kilometer golden sand beach.

Author Arthur C. Clarke once said, “How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean.”

Bangladesh’s government was one of the first to implement a plastic bag ban back in 2002, however, the country still has some of the most polluted bodies of water in the world. Have you seen measurable progress in the past few years?

Every year, nearly 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into the oceans and if that continues to be the case, it’s estimated that there will be more plastic than fish by 2050. In 2002 Bangladesh was applauded for becoming the first country in the world to ban thinner single-use plastic bags. However, 19 years later, that the ban has not truly come into force.

Here, people are still using polythene single-use plastics everyday and disposing of them everywhere, resulting in one of the major causes of drainage blockage in the city. A 2002 amendment to the Bangladesh Environment Conservation act proposed punishment for the production, import, marketing, sale, transportation, distribution of polythene bags. Despite such provisions, Bangladesh is still struggling to prevent the use of single-used plastic bags. A study by the Eco-Social Development Organization (ESDO) shows that, each month Bangladesh produces around 250 tons of single-use plastic as waste. Lack of enforcement, limited educational awareness, and a lack of a feasible alternative are all responsible for this failure.

Outside of Okeanos, you’ve had years of experience in the technical space. How can we use harness the power of the internet to help engage people in our mission?

Awareness of environmental and health issues related to ocean plastic pollution is now universal, and shared by everyone from the general public and industry to politicians. We will use social media to create awareness about avoiding single use plastic through digital campaigns. With the introduction of Okeanos, we can educate, and make sure our plastic manufacturers are equipped with the knowledge and the tools to transform the products they make into sustainable alternatives.

If you could pick a body of water anywhere in the world to spend time near, where would it be?

The Maldives. The Maldives has one of the most delicate environments anywhere on the planet. Coral reefs are the foundation of the islands.

What new skill or hobby did you pick up during quarantine?

Stress management and gardening!

Underwater photographers have recently brought blackwater photography to the surface. The practice of photographing the daily movement of stunning and unique larval fish which rise to the surface each evening is helping marine scientists to better understand what lives at the deepest depths of the oceans. Meet some of these cool, creepy creatures!

Are you a photographer with some wild images of wildlife? Get in touch for a chance to be featured! Connect with us at social@madefromstone.com


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