Parley for Oceans Founder, Cyrill Gutsch stated that; “Humans have created a material (plastic) that never goes away and never dies. It is toxic and every year it is responsible for killing thousands of birds, mammals and marine species. Plastic is a design failure.”

Gutsch was addressing an audience of stylists, designers and students in the “Smart Creation” area highlighting sustainable fashion at the Première Vision Leather fair in Paris on September 20. The presentation formed part of the “Smart talks” presentation around the central theme of the circular economy: “Activating innovation for a new approach to the fashion sector”.

The aim of his organisation is to clean up the world’s oceans and river systems by clearing tons of plastic pollution and to recycle or find alternative materials that do not have the same devastating environmental impact as plastics. He showed images of choked up rivers, polluted beaches and highlighted that even in the farthest corners of the world plastic pollution can be found in the seas and oceans.  

“Once new plastic is produced, it never goes away. Our objective is to end the manufacture of new plastic and find alternatives before we humans destroy the worlds marine ecosystems. If the oceans die, we die”, he said.

Gutsch’s, Parley has teamed-up with Adidas to use reclaimed fishing nets and recovered plastics for some of its limited-edition ranges providing a commercial demonstration of a how re-used materials can be used in a circular economy. However, his presentation did highlight the significant environmental problems associated with plastics, especially those from a fossil fuel base and the widespread pollution covering the whole planet that the plastics and synthetic materials industries have helped to create.

His comments and the objectives of Parley come at a time when the leather industry is under pressure to improve its environment performance globally and is facing increased competition from plastic based synthetic materials.