Stella McCartney to use recovered ocean plastics in future fashion lines

Stella McCartney has entered a long-term partnership with marine protection network Parley for the Oceans to use material made from recovered ocean plastic in her fashion lines.

UN declares war on marine plastic pollution
McCartney marked World Oceans Day last week (6 June) with the announcement that beginning in July a fibre made from plastic objects like fishing nets and plastic bottles would be used instead of woven polyester in products like shoes, bags and outerwear.

Parley for the Oceans has previously worked with Adidas on limited edition items made from ocean plastic materials, including trainers and one-off football kits worn by Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and several Major League Soccer clubs. McCartney has participated Parley x Adidas partnership, designing a trainer for the line. It also recently teamed up with beer brand Corona to engage local communities in beach cleanups.

The organisation currently works in the Maldives to collect around 120 tonnes of plastic from the ocean each month, sort it and ship it to recycling plants where it is reprocessed into fabric. It is working with the United Nations, which addressed the issue of plastic pollution at a global Oceans Conference last week, to extend its programme to 38 small island states across the globe.

The need for action in the struggle to combat ocean plastic pollution is pressing, with an estimated 12 million tonnes of plastic – the equivalent of over 960,000 London buses – entering the marine environment every year, causing untold damage to this ecosystem. Last month researchers found a tiny uninhabited island in the South Pacific polluted by 17.6 tonnes of plastic, with around 13,000 new items washing up on the island daily.

By 2050, plastic production will have to grow another three or four times to satisfy demand, leading the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to estimate that by that year, there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans (by weight). This is especially concerning as the plastic already bobbing in our seas is causing extreme damage to wildlife, tourism and possibly even our own health.

Stella McCartney to use recovered ocean plastics in future fashion lines
McCartney has already designed a trainer for the Parley x Adidas range
Now the UN has launched a global campaign to eliminate the major sources of marine litter by 2022, calling on governments, industry and consumers to take action.

McCartney told the New York Times that using sustainable materials does not mean that the ranges can no longer be considered luxury, and rather than being marketed specifically as containing ocean plastic, the range will only reveal the material is being used on labels.

She said: “To take something that is destructive and turn it into something that’s sexy and cool, how can that not be luxury?”

Last year McCartney told an event at the London College of Fashion that the fashion industry was ‘getting away with murder’ with unsustainable practices, imploring students to “ask questions: ask big corporations why they are using materials like PVC, and why did that watch cost three pounds, what the hell happened from A to Z there?”

McCartney has taken a vegan approach to her fashion label since founding it in 2001 and told the Times: “When I was younger, leather equalled luxury, and people could not get their head around the fact that I was not using leather. Leather is cheaper than some of the non-leather alternatives, it’s less interesting, it’s less modern. Every element of it, to me, is not particularly luxurious or fashionable.”

“Is a recycled plastic ever going to be something people think is a luxury? If they don’t notice it and if they feel that living on this planet longer is a luxury, then yes, to me that’s my idea of luxury.

Stella McCartney to use recovered ocean plastics in future fashion lines
McCartney has previously been critical of unsustainable practices within the fashion industry
“We’re in a framework where we can deliver something to people,” she said. “It’s not one piece that’s overpriced or 50 pieces that look like they have been woven in your living room.”

Commenting on the partnership, Cyrill Gutsch, the founder of Parley, said: “We felt by creating a premium material out of this trash, we can raise awareness for the problem in general. Stella McCartney is a pioneer, a rebel really. To partner with her is an honour and a huge opportunity for the Ocean Plastic movement.”

Parley are just one of the organisations trying to find new ways to use plastic waste that escapes into the marine environment. Resource has taken a look at six products that are making the most of plastic ocean waste.

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