A new Norwegian initiative to clean up the countries beaches and seas aims to give value to what it has identified as 100% ownerless ocean plastic.
Called Ogoori, after Japan’s Captain Oguri Jukichi who returned home as a hero after being lost at sea longer than anyone else in history, the new company will collect, clean, issue with a guarantee of origin and recirculate ocean plastic, thus bringing it - ‘like a returning hero’ - back into the plastic economy.
The company anticipates it will recirculate some 500-1000 metric tons of ocean plastic in 2020 alone. Ogoori was founded by two Norwegian sustainable furniture manufacturers, Ope and Vestre.
The two collaborate with a group of beach cleaners, organised into a publicly registered Norwegian NGO called ‘In the Same Boat’ and with a technological partner technology partner, Empower, who makes it possible to track the 100% ocean plastics collected using blockchain technology.
When setting up the company, the idea, said Ogoori, was to establish what may be the world's first company to deliver "Material as a Service'' through a so-called Regenerative Circular Value Chain. How does it work? Ocean plastic has long been assumed to have no value - it is broken down by sunlight, mechanical wear and consists of a mix of different plastic materials, in addition, to being difficult and expensive to clean and recover.
The problem of cost has been creatively tackled by Ogoori: the company does not sell the material – instead, the marine plastic is made available to the industry through a rental model, where the long life of the plastic ensures a manageable price for the customer.
“We have checked with researchers we work with, and dare to claim that we are the first in the world to offer raw materials as a service, at least raw materials that are cleaned up in nature”, says Ogoori co-founder and chairman, Rune Gaasø.
The motivation for establishing Ogoori was not profit, although the company’s founders suggest that in a market where brand reputation is closely tied to the materials chosen, some economic value may well be there.
The goal is idealistic: to create exponential growth in the clean-up operations. All the profits from Ogoori will be invested in the clean-up efforts, ‘as long as there is plastic left in the sea’. The beach clean-up community is mainly kept afloat by volunteers and public support.
Lars Urheim, of Ope, explained that ‘we have no desire to exploit volunteers and government support to make money but will take a role in evolving these initiatives to create a financial result that can be reversed to ensure even more ocean clean up.
“Ope’s ambition in taking this initiative is to achieve growth with a negative environmental footprint,” he concluded.