Against the backdrop of a whirlwind year, Okeanos CEO Florencio Cuétara sits down with Set In Stone™ to look back on the accomplishments and challenges of 2020. From Teams calls in our kitchens, to the challenge of developing physical products without being physically present, we take a candid look at how far we’ve come.

Q: 2020 has been an exciting yet challenging year. Looking back, what would you say you are most proud of?  

A: When starting a business, no founder ever plans for the scenario that happened this year. We had plans for every possible contingency and eventuality – or so we thought. Then we got hit with COVID, a one-hundred-year storm during the first weeks of operation. I’m most proud of the fact that we’ve been able to overcome the most challenging year anyone could have ever imagined and against the odds, have adapted, and grown beyond our wildest of expectations.

Q: After what you’ve learned this year, do you feel optimistic about the future? 

A: I feel incredibly optimistic. As a team, we have faced great challenges. We were worried about family and loved ones, we were not at work, it was hard to communicate, we couldn’t travel, we couldn’t send our people to shows or allow others to touch our product or even do the factory implementations live. With a vaccine on the horizon, having life back to normal will only drive us further and faster.

Q: Of Made From Stone’s upcoming projects, which do you feel is the most important?

A: The reality is that every kilo of plastic removed from the environment is a kilo that doesn’t have to be picked up and degraded. This is an incremental battle, every kilo replaced has an impact on plastic pollution and carbon emission. Every kilo counts.

I’m amazed with the technological breakthroughs that we’ve made in degradation, manufacturing applications, material and environmental innovation. We’ve built a sturdy global supply chain – eight manufacturing plants around the world, making use of AI, and soon, blockchain technology to track our products from the stone quarry to the consumer.

Q: What can we look forward to from Okeanos in 2021?

A: We’ve rolled out our first phase, which is the B2B phase, and we are really encouraged about seeing B2C being unveiled.

The three areas we are starting with in Q1 2021 are:

  • A replacement for paper-like material that not only is renewable and environmentally recyclable, but it’s also PFAS-free.
  • Made From Stone branded food-service items. We’ll be starting with a sandwich wrapper, straws, salad and food containers, and will move into other items.
  • New barrier films made with stone, a material that provides extraordinary protection and recyclability.

Q: What are the challenges you foresee in 2021?

A: Challenge #1 is how long it will take for the world to go back to normal. There are a lot of questions. How soon can we defeat the virus? How soon can consumers go back to their lives? How soon can our team get back to the road in support of implementation? How soon can we get people focused on the reality of the damage done during COVID to the environment? We are now set up to tackle these challenges. We are adding additional manufacturing, technology, partner brands, so I’m not concerned about the implementation of the business – I’m concerned about when the world will be ready to focus again for a serious conversation.

Q: The Okeanos team is expanding around the world. Where can we expect to see Okeanos in the coming months?

A: The big areas of expansion for Q1 are going to be Malaysia, Thailand, South Africa, Mexico, and Egypt. This is a big program that is both aggressive and ambitious – we are going to focus on those five countries with six more manufacturing facilities.

Q: Finally, looking back, what are you most thankful for?

A: We are thankful for the health of our team and their families. We are also thankful to those partners around the world that have opened their businesses, welcomed– even through the toughest of times –to share our ideas and converse with us. We are so very thankful that are joining us on this journey.

We also need to be thankful for this amazingly smart, united, and passionate Okeanos team around the world. More than 65% of the Okeanos team have never met each other – our bonds, relationships and even closed friendships have all been forged online. That is not only a miracle of technology, but a testament to the people who have joined us.

Our mission is even more important today than when we started. Due to COVID, we’ve all taken our eye off the sustainability ball this past year to focus on safety and surviving. Though, what we have done as a society, is add more plastic at an unprecedented rate in the form of PPE, take-out containers, and single-use bags; we have polluted more. Now, not only do we have to clean up what was there before but what have we have created since. Our mission now is more important than ever.

Want to join the Okeanos team? Check us out on LinkedIn


It’s time that we say it out loud…Recycling still has a long way to go. Yes, we know it’s a bold statement, but it’s true and that’s never been more obvious than this year. According to the Global Plastic Industry report, by the close of 2020, global recycling will have decreased by 5%. While this doesn’t seem like much in the grand scheme of things, consider that only 9% of things that get put in recycling containers wind up being recycled. It is also important to consider that most municipal recycling programs are run by local governments. The pandemic has crippled local infrastructure, economies, and societies and with an immediate health crisis, municipal recycling has slipped to the bottom of the “To Do” list.

In the meantime, pandemic related single-use plastic has skyrocketed, with many trying to curb the spread of the infection by eliminating shared high-touch surfaces. , turning to disposables, including take-out containers and household cleaning products. Think about how many disinfectant wipes you have used in recent months. These wipes are flying off the shelves at a rapid pace, and are only used once before they are thrown out. Made up of synthetic fibers, these wipes are neither recyclable nor compostable.

Medical waste including masks, gowns, and plastic shields, will further exacerbate the single-use plastic problem in the coming months. Currently, the United States is estimated to produce nearly a year’s worth of medical waste within two months, and in Wuhan, China during the peak of the COVID-19, hospitals were generating over 240 tons of waste per day, compared to the normal 40 tons. European countries, however, have shown promise in implementing and adhering to stricter plastic reduction bans and measures.

In just a few weeks The European Union’s 2021 ban will go into effect, banning among other things, single-use plastic plates, plastic straws, and cotton bud sticks made of plastic.  More governments around the globe are beginning to follow suit.  “Plastic is choking the planet…” Dr. Lyndsey Dodds, the Head of UK & EU Marine Policy, explains. “…Nature is not disposable, it is essential – we need it for our health, wealth and security. This is a global problem that requires a global solution.”

Okeanos understands that global recycling infrastructure simply isn’t equipped yet to handle the overwhelming amount of plastic we are producing as a society. While we wait for the recycling and composting infrastructure to improve and gain consumer acceptance, tons of new plastic are made every day – what do we do in the meantime?  Made From Stone technology focuses on an upstream solution– stemming the flow of plastic into the environment “upstream,” before we, as consumers, use and must choose to recycle it. It is our hope that in 2021, as more companies adopt Made From Stone technology, we can dramatically cut the use of virgin plastic, and make a measurable dent in the amount of plastic flowing into the environment.

Keep up with us on Instagram to see what’s coming next! 

Change starts as a drop in the ocean. A single idea, that with enough support, can grow into a ripple. Fueled by knowledge, this ripple can easily become a wave- inspiring broad, sweeping ideas that can make a tangible difference. Educational organizations are an essential part of building the foundations for change. If students understand the problems facing the earth from a young age, they can learn to approach every situation with an eye toward sustainability.

Orange County Coastkeeper  aims to protect the region’s water sources so they are swimmable, drinkable, and fishable for present and future generations. Under the umbrella organization of Waterkeeper Alliance which is a global organization with affiliates and grassroots projects all over the world.  This amazing organization develops educational curricula for Boards of Education throughout California. In 2021, Okeanos will be participating in the  W.H.A.L.E.S Program – (Watershed Heroes – Actions Linking Education to Stewardship), which introduces local students to watershed and ecological concepts through in-class exercises and field trips at no cost to schools. With Okeanos’ support, 400+ students from elementary aged to those high schools in Title 1 districts from Orange County to the Coachella Valley, will study a curriculum including lessons and curated video content on concepts including Biomimicry, Source Reduction and Waste Disposal.

Check out some of the kid’s videos we’ve made on our YouTube!

You might have remembered an article about PFAS (forever chemicals) from our previous newsletter…that stuff that repels grease and water from your burger wrapper and raincoat. It’s been linked to many health problems and is continuing to gain attention from the Federal Government. So, here’s the update!

At the request of the US FDA, three large chemical manufacturers (AGC Chemical Americas, Archroma Management, and Daikin America) will begin to phase out sales of compounds that contain 6:2 fluorotelomer alcohol (6:2 FTOH) for use in paper and cardboard food packaging. Unfortunately, the phase out of this “Forever Chemical” is anticipated to take three years. Commonly used as a grease-proofing agent on fast food wrappers and take-out containers, 6:2 FTOH replaced an older version of PFAS which had been linked to cancers and immune disorders. However, a report by the US Food & Drug Administration published in January of 2019, found that these replacements also accumulated in the bodies of rodents that were tested.

Some US lawmakers are taking steps independent of the FDA to raise the alarm about PFAS.  “Voluntary action by three companies is no substitute for a complete ban on these toxic ‘forever’ chemicals…as more turn to take-out meals during the pandemic, food packaging with PFAS has become even more dangerously prevalent. A comprehensive federal ban is the only really effective remedy,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said in a statement. As states wait for the government to act, legislation on the state-level is being proposed to ban PFAS in food packaging.

Here at Okeanos we are not waiting for the lawmakers to make the change. Taking the issue into our own hands, we have developed PFAS-Free packaging including sandwich wraps, take-away containers, and salad bowls that are available today! Made From Stone technology offers barrier properties that eliminate the need for PFAS, including protection against grease and waterproofing.

For more information, please reach out to

PepsiCo, Amazon, Apple, and Google have joined a chorus of international companies setting sustainability benchmarks for the future. In this month’s issue of Set In Stone, we’re asking if setting a vague sustainability goal which would be realized years in the future, is just another form of greenwashing. By announcing these pledges, each brand gets to ride the media wave of seeing their name alongside the words “carbon neutral” “net-zero” “eco-friendly” “environmental,” but when the calendar turns from 2029 to 2030, who will hold these brands accountable to the pledges they’ve made along the way?

In the UK, a watchdog group born of the UK’s commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050 is taking on the task. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), in collaboration with a global network of consumer protection authorities from over 65 countries called the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network, will be focusing their attention on greenwashing in textiles & fasion, travel & transport, and fast-moving consumer goods.

Greenwashing can often come in the form of well-intentioned advertising. In a recent article for Vogue Business, Susan Scafaldi, Academic Director at the Fashion Law Institute of Fordham University explained, “a brand might say it is increasing its use of recycled materials by 50 percent; this sounds impressive but that could just mean they are increasing their use from 2 percent to 3 percent.”

While the CMA focuses primarily on UK companies, their global partners around the world including the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) are working to fish out claims being made around the world. The ACM even published “rules of thumb”  for assessing sustainability claims, similar the Green Guides put out but the US Federal Trade Commission.

Here at Okeanos, we are not perfect (yet), and we’ll be the first ones to tell you so. We are committed to telling you the whole truth, and nothing but, while doggedly working to improve our technologies, better our capabilities, and to learning more every day. In the meantime, visit our website to learn more about our technologies capable of replacing more than half of the plastic in your packaging with stone and reducing your products’ overall carbon footprint, today.

Elise Perez is our Rockstar Social Media Strategist. She’s responsible for overseeing the Okeanos brand presence, personality, and across five robust social media channels. People think all she does is scroll Instagram all day, but her job is so much more than that. Elise embodies the spirit of Okeanos and her enthusiasm for the brand is evident in every post she works on. Learn more about Elise and her inspiration.

Q: Tell us about your childhood. Did you spend a lot of time by the ocean? 

A: I grew up in Houston, TX and I spent most of my summers at my cousin’s home in Galveston Bay. From as far back as I can remember, I was never surrounded by a beautiful beach. Galveston Bay is actually pretty gross; the water is brown and it’s filled with seaweed.

At the time though, it was my favorite place in the world. We would drive to Galveston Bay once every few years, and go to the beach. I have such fond memories at the bay, even though it wasn’t the most beautiful beach –it felt like summer to me. To this day it’s one of my favorite places in the world.

I remember when I first moved to Miami and was able to juxtapose these two beaches. I thought Galveston Beach was the best, and then experiencing Miami Beach really blew me away.

Q: Growing up in Texas, do you remember whether there was an effort to preserve Galveston Bay? 

A: No, never. It’s right off the Gulf. The BP oil spill completely destroyed it. All border states that are surrounded by bodies of water have this issue. The water is so contaminated because they continue to drill into it. It’s murky and you can’t see the bottom. We also have the added issue of a series of horrible hurricanes that swept all of this debris and trash into the water, and no one tries to clean it out. There are all sorts of things in there. Even appliances like toilets washed away from people’s homes now sit at the bottom of Galveston Bay.

Q: Was this what sparked your interest in the environment? 

A: I think I became hyper-aware about what was going on regarding climate change, and what was going on in our world around the age of 18. Before then I’d never really put in any effort to get involved. I’d always “cared,” but had never taken any tangible steps toward making a change until the 2016 elections. I had to start listening and learning.

Q: What interested you most about Okeanos?  

A: I was actually initially drawn into the philanthropic aspect of Okeanos. My mom died of cancer when I was nine, and so as I grew up, I carefully followed cancer research and in particular, and how the foundations worked. Then it started to come out that some of these big cancer organizations had CEO’s that were making more money than the organizations themselves were bringing in. There is no transparency, and it’s really unethical – yet they still raise billions of dollars. The environment is just one of many issues that I’m really passionate about, so I was drawn in by Okeanos’ transparency.

Q: Why do you think Social Media is an important tool for Okeanos and what is your favorite part of your role here?

A: We’re in a social media revolution right now. 2020, especially during the pandemic, has shifted people into a new way of filtering information and consuming information. People are looking for things that are easy to digest, are aesthetically pleasing, and that are interesting – but everyone’s attention span is short so you have to make your message concise, and to the point, It’s a challenge but it’s fun.

My favorite part is innovating. I can play and test and when I have an idea, I do not have to go through 20 different people to get that idea heard. My team listens to me and responds to my ideas. I’m only 24, so there’s power in that. It propels me to do better. We can mobilize people with our words and actions and we’re seeing that now with our Coral Crew – an incredibly motivated group of diverse and talented individuals working together to make a change.

Q: What is the mission of the Coral Crew? 

A: To be a resource for people who are passionate about eradicating the world of single-use plastic and being part of a community that can spark real, measurable change. I encourage everyone to join the Coral Crew not just people who are passionate about the environment but those looking to learn more about their actions and ways they can help people and our planet every day. There is so much we can do if we just work together. Join me by submitting an application here!

Q: What is one skill or hobby you’ve picked up during quarantine?  

A: I’ve realized that I make a killer workout playlist. I feel like I’ve mastered playlists of any kind. I also hate to admit it, but I was a part of the quarantine tie-dye revolution.

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