A former commercial diver is transforming discarded nets and ropes into plant pots after witnessing the impact plastic pollution is having on our oceans.
Diving in this amount of refuse and seeing the impact of plastic waste on marine life inspired Alasdair Mitchell.
“Rope and fishing net is the biggest cause of entanglement to large UK marine mammals, including seals and whales,” he said.
“Removing it and recycling it protects them and the environment.”
On Saturday, the Scottish Government outlined plans to charge businesses for the environmental costs of the packaging of their products. Household waste currently costs the taxpayer around £1.2bn every year across the UK.
Alasdair taught himself some basic manufacturing techniques and started making plant pots from plastic, discarded ropes and fishing net he found on the beach.
Eight months later the father-of-two went from making small pots and selling them at a local food market in Edinburgh himself to securing a manufacturer to produce larger pots on a much bigger scale.
He said: “In 2021, Ocean Plastic Pots won the first ever sustainable product of the year award at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
“We were introduced to an innovative recycler in the UK and then we set up our own collection program at Dunbar Harbour.
“All the rope and net material is processed by hand by a small team. We cut off the rubbers, we cut off the nylon rings and we cut off the wire to remove any contaminants before it is recycled.
“The net is washed, then shredded, then washed and shredded again before it’s extruded into pellets. We then mould this pellet into our product.”
Alasdair believes that plastic is not suited to disposable products, but if that waste material is taken and used to create an item that lasts and can be recycled again, it creates a circular economy and a CO2 saving that directly contributes to Scotland’s net zero ambition.
He added: “At the end of 2021, we were awarded a Points of Light Award by the UK Prime Minister for Sustainability and Innovation.
“All businesses in Scotland have a responsibility to be more sustainable, to look at circular economies within their supply chains and reduce their waste.”
Alasdair hopes to expand his business to other household objects as he continues to learn and evolve using this raw material.
He said Ocean Plastic Pots is planting the seed to encourage more people and businesses alike to reduce the amount of plastic used daily and protect the planet.
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