See the latest trend in spectacles – created in Norfolk from fishing nets
PUBLISHED: 17:43 20 November 2019 | UPDATED: 06:39 21 November 2019
Copyright: Archant 2019
Many designers, from Donna Karen to Jimmy Choo, have turned their hand to eyewear – but a University of East Anglia (UEA) student is hoping to trump them with his one-of-a-kind spectacles.
New company Coral Eyewear, founded by 19-year-old George Bailey, sells a range of glasses and sunglasses made from recycled fishing nets in a bid to remove harmful plastics from the ocean.
The glasses - believed to be a unique concept - are made from ghost fishing nets abandoned at sea which would otherwise have damaged the marine ecosystem.
Mr Bailey, a second-year environmental sciences student, has secured £50,000 of funding from the university to launch his business in January, 2020.
Around 34 million people in the UK now have an eyewear prescription and nine million frames are produced in the UK each year.
Mr Bailey, from Canterbury, hopes his eco-friendly, recyclable products can make a difference to the market.
"I've been inspired by the big characters in climate change like David Attenborough, and it all helps to build awareness around plastic waste. But what I'd like to come across is that everyone can make a difference; by just making a few small changes like your choice of glasses, you can make a positive impact," he said.
"Most people tend to change their frames once a year and it is hoped that the quality of these frames will mean this happens less often."
It is estimated that 640,000 tonnes of ghost fishing nets - made mostly from nylon - are dumped at sea every year, creating a hazard for dolphins, turtles and other marine life.
The nets break down over time into tiny fragments - otherwise known as micro plastics - which can cause further harm to aquatic life.
Dr Andrew Mayes, an expert in micro plastics from UEA's school of chemistry, said: "Any initiative that takes plastic waste out of the ocean is good for the environment, so I hope this business venture proves to be a great success."
Mr Bailey has partnered with a company which already sources fishing nets and other plastics to produce fabrics for brands such as Adidas and Stella McCartney.
He has been approached by a number of large and independent retailers which want to stock his products, which will start with six optical frames and a range of sunglasses.
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