Our OceanPositive journey started from the day fourth element opened its doors in 1999 and has continued to evolve in its meaning ever since. We have made some huge adjustments in recent years and we’re proud of how far we’ve come, but we know there’s still a way to go.
An estimated 8 million tons of plastic waste enters our seas each year. Dumped into our oceans daily, this threatens marine life, pollutes beaches and affects local tourism industries. On top of this, we face a global threat from escalating carbon emissions, resulting in rising sea levels with devastating effects to both humans and wildlife.
With action, there is hope.
Being ‘OceanPositive’ stems from not just what we do in the ocean but also what we do in our everyday lives. From the garments we produce to the packaging they are in and the projects that we support along the way, everything we do leads to ensuring a more sustainable business that is good for the ocean.
On this World Oceans Day, June 2021, we are setting out our new intentions for OceanPositive with some ambitious ideas of what we want to achieve in the next decade for the environment that we care for so dearly. We invite you to come with us on this journey and we look forward to celebrating, with your support, the milestones we meet along the way.
For the past few years we have been working to completely eliminate single-use plastic from our packaging, a goal that was derailed by the pandemic but will be achieved by the end of 2021. We currently identify 45% of our products as being made from at least 30% of recycled materials, made from waste such as plastic bottle and ghost fishing nets.
By 2030, we aim to create a net effect by ensuring 90% of our products are made from at least 30% regenerated materials rather than virgin materials.
Our products are always designed to stand the test of adventures, with quality that ensures a long life. We know of products with thousands of dives – still going after many years and this has always been part of our sustainability strategy. But waste can be created at every point in the lifecycle of products. Ordering with smaller suppliers also ensures we create less waste. We cut our patterns in the most effective way possible to keep waste to a minimum. In order to re-use the waste that is produced, currently, the scraps from our wetsuits are recycled at source to ensure no waste during production. We also find new purpose for the leftover fabric from our rashguards and swimwear, turning it into items such as face masks and neck buffs.
We want to reduce waste at the end of more of our product’s lives, and will be introducing various schemes over the next 5 years to create more possibilities for re-purposing, repairing or recycling 100% of our products.
Our headquarters runs on 60% electricity from solar panels, accounting for 54% of our total energy use on site. Where possible we source locally and ship via sea rather than air. We support our team continuing to work remotely some of the time in order to reduce the carbon footprint of our daily commutes.
By 2030 we have the ambition of being carbon neutral by reducing the carbon footprint of our entire operation and transportation, and to offset the remaining by supporting the growth and restoration of major ocean carbon sinks such as sea grass, kelp and mangroves.
There are a number of ocean-based charities and projects already close to our hearts which we support with funding or kit in order for them achieve their goals such as Olive Ridley Project, Ghost Diving, Coral Restoration Foundation, Global Ghost Gear Initiative, Reef Renewal Foundation and Bite-Back. We work closely with like-minded organisations, supporting the National Parks Service Submerged Resources team, the Ocean Agency and several others. We even helped to fund one of the earliest documentaries on the problems of plastic pollution; A Plastic Ocean.
We are focussing on supporting more projects that directly protect endangered species and help our oceans’ ecosystems to regenerate, moving closer to reversing the damage of human impact. We will also support projects aimed at creating the leadership and the ocean advocates of the future through education programmes in the UK and further afield.
We use OceanPositive as a term which encompasses multiple criteria relating to improving the health of our oceans. For our products to meet OceanPositive status they must be at least one of the following:
– Made from at least 30% recycled materials (but in most cases are much more, such as our swimwear)
– Comes from a certified sustainable source (such as our Yulex natural rubber suit)
– Is a tool to help reduce plastic pollution (such as our reusable Gulper bottles)
We need to be realistic; we aren’t going to be able to completely eliminate virgin material from our products whilst retaining the level of performance that diving wear requires. And manufacturing is never going to be without some amount of waste and environmental impact when it comes to transportation. We aren’t saying that there will be no plastic and no carbon produced after 2030.
But what we do think we can achieve, is a balance of the negative and positive impacts that are involved in producing our products, reaching a net zero outcome in plastic use, wastage and carbon emissions. The targets laid out above are the steps we hope to take to get us there, where the products you buy are having overall zero impact on the environment.