Local diver crowdfunding to recycle marine plastics into handplanes

Passionate Newquay diver and founder of Odyssey Innovation, Rob Thompson, has begun a crowdfunding campaign today (24th October) which aims to raise funds to scale up the manufacturing of a handplane made entirely of recycled marine plastics.

Rob Thompson has been preserving our Cornish seas from plastic waste since 2014, after establishing a volunteer group called Fathoms Free. His ongoing work has resulted in the removal of tonnes of marine plastics from in and around Cornwall’s coastline, and led him to set up Odyssey Innovation after he pioneered a process to recycle his marine plastics into kayaks.

The Odyssey Innovation kayak became Rob’s signature vessel, helping him and his volunteers collect even more ocean plastics from those harder to reach coves and inaccessible beaches. Following the success of his kayak, Rob knew he needed to introduce a new product into the market that had a wider market appeal and was both family and ocean friendly.

“It was really important that we came up with a marine recycled product that could be enjoyed by all beachgoers, but also one that was high-end and wouldn’t become yet another piece of plastic that would be left behind on a beach. We’re constantly picking up broken buckets and spades. We don’t want to add to the problem. That’s how we came up with the marine recycled handplane”, he explains.

His latest business idea has been supported by Acceleration Through Innovation (ATI), a project led by the University of Plymouth and funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and assists businesses who are looking to adopt innovative processes or who aspire to bring a new product or service to market.

ATI provided Odyssey Innovation with research, design and prototyping expertise, as well as an innovation consultancy grant that assisted with the costs of product design and development. Working collaboratively with their specialist consultant at Dynamic Edge Innovation Ltd, as well as undergoing testing with a number of local surfers, Odyssey Innovation refined and perfected their handplane design – something that they now boast is “designed by surfers, for surfers” says Rob.

Being true to their sustainible ethos, the body of the handplane is to be made in the UK and entirely from recycled marine plastic. In the same vein, the wrist strap padding is made from recycled, end-of-life wetsuits and webbing from the seat belts and life jackets donated by the RNLI. By doing this, Odyssey Innovation plan to reuse waste materials which otherwise would have ended up in landfill, incinerated or worse – back in the ocean!

Rob’s crowdfunding campaign (if successful) will allow him to commence manufacturing the world’s first marine recycled handplane and he hopes the funds generated from additional sales of this new product will help sustain his ocean clean-up activities. For more information about Odyssey Innovation, their handplane and to pledge via their crowdfunding project, visit www.odysseyinnovation.com/hand-plane.

For more information about ATI or to register your interest in the programme visit www.aticornwallinnovation.co.uk.