Waterhaul at 100% Optical

Kieran Hill, head of B2B sales at Waterhaul, on the process of repurposing ocean plastics, and the importance of a circular economy for sustainability

Eyewear company, Waterhaul, was built around a focus on environmental impact, with frames made from “the most harmful and abundant form of ocean plastic.”

Speaking to OT at 100% Optical in April, Kieran Hill, head of B2B sales at Waterhaul, explained how the company collects and repurposes ghost nets and fishing gear into functional products.

The material is collected in Newlyn, Cornwall, and sent to a partner in the UK to be cleaned and shredded, before it can be made into frames.

Styles in the brand’s portfolio include ‘Harlyn Aqua,’ which derives its sea-green colouration from the monofilament nylon used in the frames, and ‘Sennen,’ which was made specifically for the ophthalmic market and features a slate colouring, chosen to link back to the Cornish coastline.

Hill highlighted the core goal of the brand is to revalue waste plastic into a “very durable, high quality” consumer product.

Being in a consumer market means people will want to cycle through new styles often, but Hill suggested: “If you are in a market like that and can make a product with an eco-focus and engineered to last someone a lifetime, that is where we will start to see real change.”

Giving each pair of spectacles or sunglasses “its longest lifecycle,” would be the first step, he said.

As part of this, Waterhaul has implemented a circular economy, whereby, if the frames are damaged, they can be sent back to the brand through a lifetime guarantee and the materials can go back into the supply chain.

“I think that’s the next step,” he said, reflecting on the direction of sustainability in the eyewear industry, “the product can go back into a brand’s supply chain, so it isn’t just thrown away and adds to the problem.”