Cleaning the oceans with fashion? Sounds crazy! Spanish start-up Seaqual makes it possible. Seaqual recycles marine plastic waste by turning it into polyester fibres to be used for jeans, sportswear or swimwear. After all, every year some 8 million tons of waste end up in our oceans and 75% of this on the sea bed.

Seaqual’s mission is to free the Mediterranean from plastic waste and to upcycle this plastic by converting it into new, eco-friendly polyester fibres. 400 boats and 1,500 fishermen along the Spanish coast are involved in the project. Instead of simply throwing the marine waste ending up as a by-catch in their nets back into the sea – as is common practice – Seaqual encourages fisherman to take it home with them to the harbour. There the collected waste is sorted by metal, glass and plastics once a week and fed into the respective recycling cycles. Thanks to Seaqual plastics are processed into high-quality synthetic fibres. The result: 100% recycled polyester yarn of highest quality, which can be made into garments again.

For each kilogram of fibre produced one kilo of waste disappears from the sea. So a sustainable chain forms from fishermen through to consumers and also including spinning and weaving mills as well as brands. Seaqual is a joint project initiated by fashion label Ecoalf, textile group Santanderina and spinning mill Antex.