Product image of glasses and fishing nets

Sea2See turns discarded plastic fishing nets into high-fashion eyewear

François van den Abeele had a dream – to turn discarded plastic fishing nets into high-fashion, hand-finished eyewear. People once laughed at him, but now, as he leads a swell of eco-entrepreneurs, his products are in increasing demand around the world. He tells LUX how he created an ecosystem around his brand, Sea2See
Portrait of man holding glasses

François van den Abeele

“My love of water sports nurtured a passion for the ocean and brought me to focus on the problem of plastic contamination in our seas. I had spent a lot of time reading about the degradation of our oceans, the problems surrounding marine plastic, and about the brands trying to implement circular economy in the way they produce.

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“I began to investigate ways of using plastic waste as a raw material to produce something that people would use and potentially wear. Sustainability is non-existent in the optical world; the main raw material used is plastic and 40 per cent of the population wears glasses. It was a perfect win, win, win.

“All this, along with a personal motivation to change my profession and do something positive with a sustainable impact culminated in the creation of Sea2See Eyewear.

“We have agreements with 27 ports in Spain, six in France and now we are starting in Ghana. We collect on average half a ton of plastic waste per day that we recycle to produce all of our optical frames in Italy.

Fishermen standing on a boat deck

“The market is changing, and consumers are more and more worried about the future we will leave to our kids. The proof is that in three years we are being sold in more than 2,500 optical stores across Europe and North America, and the numbers are growing.

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“People laughed at me four years ago when I had the idea of producing glasses with recycled marine plastic. Today we get calls daily from stores or brands that want our product or to collaborate with us.

“There is a global awareness that we must treat our planet better and consume differently, and Sea2See, thanks to its customers, is doing its part. Sustainable glasses will not change the world. People that wear them will.”

Discover the collections: sea2see.org

This article was originally published in the Spring 2020 Issue.