Okeanos was named one of Fast Company’s 2022 World Changing Ideas!+
OKEANOS NEWSLETTER – MAY 2020
Brazil’s ecosystems have been hit hard in the past year. From dams collapsing, oils spills, followed by months of forest fires, and now Covid-19. On top of that, plastic pollution on their beaches, in their forests, and in the rivers that make up the majority of the country, is negatively affecting one of the most important biodiverse regions in the world. It feels like Brazil has not been able to catch a break. However, now, we finally have some good news to share.
OkeanosBrasil will soon be manufacturing Made From Stone products using local Brazilian stone, which will then be shipped around the country and exported to other Okeanos customers. This not only provides local jobs, but also ensures a lower carbon footprint when it comes to production and transportation. This is an economical solution and there will also be a particular focus on innovation, marketing, education, and conservation efforts specifically in the Amazon region. OkeanosBrasil is working toward making meaningful change.
We’d like to give a warm welcome to our new OkeanosBrasil (OKBR) Team! Here is what our new OKBR CEO, Stefano Geronimi, has to say about this new journey with Okeanos:
“Valfilm’s partnership with Okeanos is a modern and intelligent way to offer solutions for masterbatch and compounds while engaging with the market and committing to the environment.”
Owned by the Geronimi family for generations, the Valfilm story is one of hard work by Italian immigrants. Today, the company is one of the largest compounders and packaging businesses in Brazil.
Dozens of companies claim they’re “going green.” The phrase is being thrown around so often, it’s hard to identify which companies really are taking measurable steps to reduce the effects of their product on the environment, or if they’re simply, greenwashing. Our goal is to illuminate some of the mistruths that are promoted by companies who provide misleading information about how a product is “environmentally friendly.”
So, how do you spot greenwashing? Here are a few tips to help see through all that pretty packaging to find the truth. Firstly, look for vagueness within the company or product. Companies will claim that they’re “going green” without laying out verifiable proof in their materials. The reluctance to put forth detailed information about what they’re doing raises questions – are their products benefiting the environment? Where’s the proof?
Secondly, look for a hidden trade-off – companies suggest a product is green based on a single environmental attribute, but might be hiding the whole truth. For example, using a paper straw is considered going “green,” but to manufacture that straw, we are actively contributing to a huge problem – deforestation. According to The World Counts, 40% of the world’s commercially cut timber is used for paper production. And over 30 million acres of forest are destroyed annually, which also adds to the increasing list of endangered species that live in forests, specifically the Amazon Rainforest. Not to mention, it takes significantly more water to produce a paper straw than a plastic straw (about four times more). Think to yourself what’s the catch?
Finally, the third is claiming they are part of the “natural” movement. It is important to recognize that natural does not always equate to good. For example, viscose (a fiber made from natural resources) is often branded as “natural” and eco-friendly, but 150 million trees are cut down every year to make it. The sad truth is there are countless “eco-friendly” products and companies that are greenwashing consumers into believing they’re helping environmental causes, when the reality is actually the opposite.
Made From Stone is not perfect… yet, but we are committed to being honest about the capabilities of our technology. We are working toward the perfect circular package solution for the future, but right now Okeanos offers the best solution available on the market today; a technology that can be affordably and easily adopted worldwide, replacing a significant portion of the plastic in packaging with naturally occurring stone. Our calcium carbonate is extracted from the environment, transformed into our compounds, and then manufactured into packaging. After anywhere from six months to three years, the packaging degrades back into stone where it’s recycled through the environment, ready for use again, and again. Plastic produces roughly four kg of CO2 per kg used, which creates a large carbon footprint. Our stone only creates 0.075 kg CO2 per kg, and has absolutely no footprint on degradation because it’s already in its natural state. That’s a pretty huge improvement.
Here at Okeanos, we feel green isn’t “safe” anymore. It doesn’t hold the same value as it used to. We want to introduce a new word that is representative of true sustainability. You’ll notice a Coral stripe on all of our products. This is representative of coral reefs, the lifeblood of our oceans, so now, let’s go coral because coral is the new green.
These multi-use bowls may not look like much at first, but join us as we dig into the details about the Made From Stone technology that makes these unique bowls possible.
For starters, we’ve been able to make products Made From Stone smooth, strong, and have a structural integrity that exceeds the current 100% plastic thermoformed packaging. These bowls also have an incredibly high load compression value, meaning they can withstand breakage and cracking, but are still able to completely degrade. Our favorite part? The resin these containers would typically use is expensive, so being Made From Stone not only reduces the amount of plastic, but the cost as well! To produce these products, the energy consumption is quite low, and we have the compound available now in four different markets – India, Brazil, United States, and Spain. Soon in Pakistan, and Colombia.
Technical aspects aside, let’s talk about the “look.” In the photo you can see that the bowls are smooth on the outside and slightly textured on the inside. We can actually change each of the bowl’s features, making them look whiter, glossier or matte, smoother or textured. Personally, we prefer the textured look because the little bits of stone actually add a shimmering effect! These products are versatile in the way they can be used, whether it’s holding a side salad, a bowl of yogurt or even cereal. This packaging Made From Stone can be produced immediately, with significant energy savings, a rigid structure, and a personalized style.
In order to better understand the way our Made From Stone technology interacts with the world around us, Okeanos has assembled a team of leaders in various fields to sit in our Scientific Advisory Board. A champion of the whales and dolphins of the South Pacific, Dr. Poole has spent most of his career studying and protecting these aquatic mammals. He has made discoveries about whale breeding stocks and migration routes, published scholarly articles about the animals he studies, and advocates for conservation programs in the South Pacific. As a result of Dr. Poole’s rigorous efforts, all of French Polynesia has been declared a protected sanctuary for whales and dolphins.
In an interview with Dr. Poole, we discussed the work he’s done over the course of his celebrated career and why he’s looking forward to collaborating with Okeanos as we develop technology.
When I was 7-10 yrs old, we lived in Bermuda. Humpback whales were seen seasonally, and one stranded on a beach. I decided that “when I grow up” I would live on an oceanic island and do research on whales and dolphins. We later lived on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi and on the Atlantic coast of Florida, and seeing wild dolphins in both areas only strengthened my resolve to become a marine mammalogist.
As a senior biology/marine biology undergraduate at the University of Miami, I was the assistant of a doctoral candidate and his professor conducting research on South Florida’s endangered manatees, and also on a dolphin-stranding event. That was my introduction to actual hands-on studying of marine mammals and conservation. As a Master’s Degree student at California State University, I conducted three years of research on California gray whales. In the 1800s, gray whales had been nearly exterminated in their Baja, Mexico breeding grounds, and current data on their migration route and population numbers were vital to conservation efforts to ensure their survival. For my doctoral dissertation at the University of California, I conducted six years of research on spinner dolphins here at Moorea and Tahiti in French Polynesia. Spinner dolphins are one of the two species of dolphins that have been purposely caught since the 1960s in purse-seine nets between Hawaii, Mexico, and Peru so as to capture the yellow-fin tuna that swim underneath the dolphins. Some populations of spinner dolphins in that fishery have been reduced by over 85%.
Yes, most people don’t know that whales and dolphins are most closely related to hippopotamuses, followed by deer, elk, cattle, pigs, giraffes, and other even-toed hoofed land mammals, and that they have multi-chambered stomachs like most of their terrestrial relatives.
A: While conducting research on spinner dolphins here, I sometimes observed humpback whales, much to my pleasant surprise. This species was part of the middle 20th-century commercial slaughter, with up to 97% of all humpbacks killed around the world, and this species was essentially unknown in French Polynesia. So, I immediately started field research, discovering and proving that French Polynesia is a previously unknown breeding ground for a previously unknown population of humpback whales, and our population is among the smallest on earth.
To bring about public and political awareness of the dolphins and whales in French Polynesia’s waters, I gave public seminars, school presentations, and interviews in local print, radio and TV media; published papers in scientific and popular press; and produced three dolphin/whale stamps for the Postal Office (I also wrote the philatelic circular that accompanied the stamps). For the Ministry of the Environment I proposed and then produced two educational posters featuring the dolphins and whales of French Polynesia; these posters were distributed free of charge to the country’s schools. And in 2000/2001 I worked in collaboration with the two heads of French Polynesia’s President’s International Relations Office, completing draft legislation for the creation of a dolphin and whale sanctuary.
After my 10 years of lobbying and other efforts, in May 2002 French Polynesia’s government accepted my proposition and my draft legislation, thereby creating a whale and dolphin sanctuary throughout the country’s entire Exclusive Economic Zone, approximately 5 million square kilometers (over half the size the continental US). This has been my greatest conservation success. In 2003 the World Wildlife Fund awarded French Polynesia their highest accolade, the Gift to the Earth Award, in recognition of our sanctuary. I’ve also been responsible for the creation of a Marine Protected Area here at Moorea.
Because of the sanctuary, even more people (local and international) are now aware of the dolphins and whales in our waters; they have become more interested in these species; and they are more likely to support protective measures. People who know more, most often will care more. And people that care more are more likely to take appropriate action or accept and support appropriate measures. When I first arrived here in 1987, no one spoke about dolphins or whales. Because of our sanctuary, the people of French Polynesia now know more and care more about these creatures as part of their patrimony, and international tourists are aware of them and may come here with high hopes to see some.
I have seen plastic pollution in my research and personal travels—pristine areas of incredible beauty, but marred by plastic pollution—at beaches, deserts, mountains, lakes and rivers, and in the middle of the ocean. I know of the long life of plastic; it doesn’t simply go away. I know of the effects of plastics on animals, both on land and in the seas. Packaging is a necessity, as are many other things for which plastic is used. So, what can be used instead of, or in combination with plastics, so as to reduce (and eventually eliminate) the production of additional plastic?
When I learned of Okeanos Made from Stone and its objective of using naturally occurring and degradable calcium carbonate as a substitute for part of, or much of the plastic polymer used in producing packaging, I was immediately interested. When invited to join the SAB, I was pleased to accept, in spite of my lack of knowledge concerning plastics/industry/business. Plastic cleanup is an excellent task and must be done, but if plastic production continues then cleanup will never cease. As a scientist, I will do my best to contribute to the Okeanos mission of replacing plastic polymer with a natural and degradable substitute, calcium carbonate.
Like all dolphins, spinner dolphins manipulate things in their environment. They “play” with sticks, leaves, and other things floating at the surface or lying in the water column. One dolphin may carry a leaf on its left pectoral flipper for some distance, and then release it, another will pick it up and carry it on its dorsal fin, and then release it and another will pick it up with the left half of its flukes (tail), carry it some distance, and then release it – think of kids passing a Frisbee, or a soccer ball, or a baseball. Sometimes dolphins will carry or push through the water something on their beak. This is all well and good as long as the objects are leaves, twigs, sticks, etc., but a plastic bag can become lethal.
Unfortunately, a small Blainville’s beaked whale was not so fortunate—it stranded dead and we performed a necropsy—it had ingested a piece of plastic that was as hard as metal and was shaped like a pointed star. Each time that the first chamber of the whale’s stomach contracted to mechanically break down its prey, the plastic star cut the stomach. It had multiple perforations.
We need to convince people that climate change, specifically warming oceans and the resulting ocean acidification, is real, and it is killing our seas. We also need to show people the massive plastic pollution of our seas, from large pieces to those that are microscopic. We must take proactive action to clean up existing plastic pollution and replace plastic polymers with natural and degradable calcium carbonate at the sources of production.
We need to convince people that we CAN and MUST take action to ameliorate these worldwide problems. People already know many of the ways they can participate—we can limit our use of fossil fuels; lower our individual and group carbon and plastic footprints; support scientific research; use existing sustainable alternatives even if they are not perfect but simply better; and continue to search for and develop solutions.
We are thrilled to introduce Deepak D. Tamhankar, a member of our Senior Marketing Executive Okeanos India team (OKI). An incredibly valuable asset to the team, Deepak is always going above and beyond as one of India’s top environmental advocates. His work and dedication are outstanding, and his passion is unmatched. Watching him spread our Okeanos mission throughout India is inspiring.
Every day brings a new challenge which is inspiring to me. The product evolution and its application are what keep me going further, pushing sales. As for hobbies, I enjoy playing sports like football and cricket. In fact, I represented my school and college in tournaments.
The OKI rules are unique. For example, we have an open communication structure and freedom when sharing our thought processes. Also, our communication channels amongst fellow teammates and the hierarchy of our reporting system is what makes us different from other companies.
Two things work has emphasized for me is the idea of being trustworthy and credible. The right product, the right price, and the right time commitment are what India strongly adheres to when it comes to business internally or externally.
We measure success when the products have met customer expectations and have achieved its goal of sale, making sure the product is in its correct configuration and placement.
Like Okeanos, we are also looking for the development and evolution of fully degradable and sustainable packaging by continuously driving innovation across different forms of degradation (Oxo-
Biodegradable, Plant Based, Hydro-biodegradable, organic etc.), with calcium carbonate at the core of our Okeanos platform.
Yes, we have better alternative solutions to the reduction of the carbon footprint. A lot of companies have realized how worthy a carbon footprint reduction is in terms of saving our planet, as well decreasing their costs, so I think they are really trying.
First, Tata group has pledged Rs 1,500cr (aprox. 200 million USD) in support of fight against COVID-19. Second, Reliance Industries are donating Rs 500 cr (approx. 70 million USD) to the PM-CARES Fund, which also provide Rs 5 cr [700,000 USD] each to the governments of Maharashtra and Gujarat to support their fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Our current situation calls for a salute to these companies who have always been India’s pride and the envy of other nations.
The best thing about Made From Stone technology is the fact that it’s a complete packaging solution. Converting existing non-degradable plastic manufacturing into fully degradable products is incredible.
It’s something we always tried working on but never perfected until we met the OKEANOS team in Mumbai. Their explanations and confidence in the product made us equally confident, which gave us the confidence and trust to move further, pitching it in to our prospective and existing clientele.
When we explain Made From Stone concepts to a customer, they are very excited about the substitution of calcium carbonate in place of plastic.
India generates nearly 26,000 tons of plastic waste every day, contributing to a large part of the ocean pollution. The newer generation is becoming more educated about the harmful effects of ocean pollution. Through this education, people develop a desire to contribute to its reduction.
It reminds me that we are directly connected to Mother Earth, and that we have a responsibility to doing something each day to help save it from destruction and harm.
In Greek, Okeanos translates to one ocean, it is the thing that connects us all. Plastic pollution from one coast, can be found washed up on another, and yet, everyone points fingers at other cities or countries to blame. However, most of us have participated in the plastic pollution problem despite feeling like we are doing the right thing by recycling. The unfortunate truth is that most of our recycling isn’t actually being recycled, 91% of the items being recycled end up in landfills, in the ocean, or in incinerators causing more air pollution.
It is time that the world takes a stance and we stop waiting for someone to do something for our planet. WE need to be the someone by making little changes every day. We have the power to choose products with the coral stripe and know we are choosing Made From Stone. We have the ability to talk with our friends, family, corporations, officials, and voice that we want change, that it’s a future of stone we want to see, not plastic. We are arming Mother Nature’s Warriors with the weapons they need to fight the battle against plastic pollution. Join our movement by spreading the word on social media, writing to businesses you frequent, and showing the world that together, #WeAreTheSomeone.Interested in taking on a larger role at Okeanos? Become an Okeanos Ocean Ambassador! Email us to tell us more about your passion for preserving our oceans or share your original ocean or conservation-related content.
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