We often get asked questions about our practises and rightly so! Resin as a standard material is in fact more plastic being added to the mountain of plastic that we already produce as a country, Every decision we make as a business, we make in the most informed and sustainable way that is possible for us as a fledgling small business. This does mean making tough decisions sometimes, as our costs have to be covered somehow.
Our resin. This is not ordinary resin! We use a plant based material that is a by-product of the maple industry in Canada, called super sap. Its by far the most sustainable and environmentally friendly product we can find on the market and its super expensive, but it ticks most of the boxes we have regarding using otherwise waste products, rather than raw virgin materials. The only problem with it, is that all UK supplier have to ship it over from Canada and the USA, so in terms of carbon footprint, it isnt where we’d like to be for a material we need to buy in. But its a compromise. we feel very strongly that we shouldn’t be using plastic epoxy. So we dont. Our hope is that as sustainability continues to be prevalent in consumer choices, Uk manufactures will step up and produce a Uk made competitive product.
Our power. Our workshop is solar powered, although we do have to use a small amount of diesel sometimes to power the generator for the granulator BUT we are just getting installed a 3 phase power unit in the workshop which will eliminate this! My home office runs off my home supplier which is the super green tariff with Octopus, that is not only carbon offset and 100% sustainable, it also carbon captures.
Our waste. We are very nearly a zero waste business. We recycle or reuse any paper or cardboard we get. We buy from plastic free packaging suppliers- things like our boxes and packaging all are recycled and recyclable. The small amount of plastic waste we get we either reuse for some super delicate deliveries or we re process via our granulator. The material we create is still 99% marine litter but there is that tiny bit of plastic we chuck through it from our deliveries. We create around a carrier bag of waste a year and that is compiled of gloves- we have reusable, but eventually they have to go. safety masks- again these have a life span but are essential to keep us safe particularly when sanding. We recycle the parts we can but there will always be sections that we cant. The final element of waste is newspaper that is soaked in either pure alcohol or acetone. We use this to clean down our workspaces. It is essential for safety that this is all sent to the incinerator.
Our moulds. We have transitioned to making our own moulds as and when they lose their shine. Of course its always best to use what you have before you replace it with sustainable alternatives! As a mould becomes unusable, we granulate it and have new British steel shapes cut locally, which we then polish and can infinitely mould from. This whole process take a while but its worth it,
Our wood. We use sustainably sourced local English oak for all of our crossover products. It is really important for us to be really conscious when we look at our supply chain. We want to be as ethical as possible is every choice we make and if we have to compromise, we want to do that having considered all the available alternatives.
Our processes. We have refined our processes as we have been on this journey as a small business and developed a really tight production line, that minimises waste and rejected items that aren’t up to standard. So we start with collecting the beach clean waste, it gets washed in a cement mixer with water, then dried. It then passes through the granulator several times until it reaches the size we need it to be. From here we use a water bath to heat the resin to exactly 50 degrees and mix the colour, then rubbish, we then use a vacuum degasser to remove the bubbles or trapped air. This process takes a while and is a finely balanced challenge – if the resin over heats it will catch fire! From here the resin and rubbish mixture goes into moulds which are then put into a pressure pot, which has a compressor attached. Once the pieces have been in for 4 or 5 days, they are turned out and then we use 2 sanders connected to a vacuum which collects the waste to be returned to the plastic fluff mix. Finally we use a polisher to buff up the pieces, then give them a wash and hand polish then build the jewellery. This whole process takes several days and hours. It really is a labour of love!
So, that’s where we are at currently. We are constantly looking at ways to improve and do better. One of our next steps is to experiment with a new hardener that can dissolve products back into their original components if you make a mistake. We also now have an extruder, which effectively melts the marine litter that has been granulated into a malleable plastic that we can make all sorts of products with. The plan is to develop an industrial range of products once the Christmas rush is over!
I hope this has been informative and interesting- please do get in touch with any questions!