Top 10 : Innovations for the future of the ocean

The oceans are our life force, essential to our survival. Unless we can find ways to tackle environmental issues at a global scale, we are not just looking at the end of capitalism but life as we know it. As the UN Sustainable Development Goals outline, it has never been more important for industry and environmental organisations to work together, and thankfully they are doing so in more and more innovative ways.

A new wave of organisations are strategising towards a positive future for the planet’s waterways. Impossible were part of a creative sprint earlier this year with Wild Labs to ideate around new ways to engage public in this quest. Below we have outlined 10 other stand out initiatives from around the world.

Project X by WWF

Tackling environmental problems at an industry level, WWF are helping to bring cutting-edge business solutions to market, by offering their skills and expertise to minimise the risk for those starting out. Their bold ambition is to “radically transform 10 industries in 10 years”, starting with livestock and feed, so watch this space.

Parley for the oceans x adidas

Parley have teamed up with sports powerhouse Adidas to create a 3D printed shoe made from plastic ocean waste, literally “spinning the problem into a solution”. The partnership is part of a bigger mission to rethink the use of materials and design to bring about lasting change to ocean health.

Plastic bank

This is an ambitious project which aims not just to remove plastic from our waterways but to turn it into a social currency which can lift people out of poverty. Plastic bank pay people above market rates for waste plastic, which is then turned into raw plastic pellets which can be sold to industry and used as ‘social plastic’.They are even going as far as providing communities with 3D printers which can turn the recycled plastic pellets into useful objects.

Ocean data alliance use of Artificial Intelligence

One of the arguable ironies of our ‘advancement at any cost’ attitude, is that technologies like AI might prove invaluable in the battle against natural disaster. The Ocean Data Alliance (a public-private partnership for ocean monitoring) are hoping to harness the power of AI to more quickly and efficiently identify and deal with issues such as illegal fishing or outbreaks of disease.


Provenance, a platform that enables greater transparency in supply chains, have successfully trialled the use of mobile, blockchain technology and smart tagging to track tuna from the ocean in Indonesia to your plate! This pilot can now provide a blueprint to expand the system, which verifies sustainability claims at every stage of the supply chain, to other goods and foods in SE Asia.

Finless foods

Using cutting-edge cell culture techniques, Finless foods plan to cultivate fish ‘fillets’ in brewery conditions, taking the strain off our oceans and helping to meet our insatiable appetite for fish. In this way it is hoped that biotechnology can make the fishing industry sustainable and affordable to everyone.

Vivobarefoot algae based foam footwear

Algae explosions in our waterways are on the rise because of pollution and increasing water temperatures. Shoe manufacturer Vivobarefoot are tackling this problem head on using algae based BLOOM foam in the production of their Ultra III shoe. It offers a sustainable alternative to the petrochemical EVA which is often used in the production of foam.

Original Unverpackt

Berlin-based supermarket Original Unverpackt is offering its groceries in a completely package free store. Customers bring their own containers and are allowed to purchase the exact amount that they want of each product. The goal is not only to reduce the catastrophic effects of waste plastic but also our chronic food wastage.

ISEAS fisheries

The Integrated Seawater Energy and Agriculture System (ISEAS) does exactly what it says on the tin; a bioenergy pilot project using non-arable desert land, irrigated with seawater, to produce bioenergy and food. The intention is that the integration be as environmentally responsible as possible.

Waterless beauty brands

In an age of growing water scarcity, the reliance of skin care products on H2O (often as high as 70–80% of each product) is being questioned. There are many benefits to cutting down on water in beauty products, including a higher proportion of other active ingredients like essential oils, and a longer shelf life without the use of harsh chemicals. At the far end of the spectrum going water free also removes the need for plastic packaging when products as diverse as soap and tanning products can be delivered in the form of a bar.

See our Planet Centric Design toolkit for how to integrate this thinking into your own businesses.