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Farrer & Co | Interview with Ocean Bottle

In this interview, we talk to Will Pearson, a founder of the social impact company the Ocean Bottle Ltd. Will, together with his co-founder and fellow London Business School graduate Nick Dorman, founded the start-up in order to turn their passion for the environment into a commercial reality.

Here, Will gives us his unique perspective on the rise of a new generation of impact companies, the influence these businesses are beginning to have on the wider economy, and the Ocean Bottle’s ultimate aims.

What inspired you to set up the Ocean Bottle?

Our company arose out of necessity. Plastic is surging into our oceans at a rate of 22 million kilograms per day, a number which is growing exponentially. At the same time individuals want to do something about the problem. We exist to bridge this gap and to enable people all around the world to have a direct impact on stopping ocean plastic at some of the key sources, with the world’s most needed reusable bottle. Each ocean bottle pays for the collection of the equivalent of 1,000 plastic bottles from polluted coastal regions.

How did you first come up with the concept for the Ocean Bottle?

It all started with a survey of around 500 Londoners. We asked whether people would be willing to pay a premium for a reusable bottle that had an impact on stopping ocean plastic. 96 per cent said that they would. This confirmed our belief that we could develop a product centred around impact and design. Design of the ocean bottle started in April 2018 in Oslo, Norway. Since then, we have been selected to join Katapult Ocean, founded together with the WWF, and one of the few UN Global Ocean Action platforms. We have now sold the first 10,000 ocean bottles which will be shipped to 88 countries and together will fund collection of ten million plastic bottles, while preventing further bottles from ever entering our oceans.

The number of socially conscious start-ups such as the Ocean Bottle is increasing at a dramatic rate.  What influence do you think this will have on the economy at large?

We believe in impact companies – a new generation of businesses that exists to create positive change in line with sustainable development goals and profits, to expand their presence. If smaller companies start to put these objectives at the centre of their operations and are hugely successful, we see that larger corporations will also follow suit.

What is the Ocean Bottle’s ultimate goal?

To help the world turn the tap off ocean plastic. We are taking a collaborative approach to achieve this, and are working with individuals, corporations, fashion brands, hotels and NGOs for bottles and local action to collect plastic currently in Haiti, Indonesia, Philippines and Brazil with our partners Plastic Bank. Each ocean bottle also has an embedded smart chip which will enable owners to fund more plastic collection when they bring it along and scan at partner refill locations. By 2025 we want to be funding collection equivalent to three billion plastic bottles each year, whilst also deploying plastic collection infrastructure where it is needed most.

How have you found working with Farrer & Co?

Farrer & Co is unique in the way it looks after companies by putting the entrepreneurs first. The business advice, and also connections, that have been accessible to us stretches far beyond just legal support. We look forward to being a part of this network going forward.

 bottle also has an embedded smart chip which will enable owners to fund more plastic collection when they bring it along and scan at partner refill locations. By 2025 we want to be funding collection equivalent to three billion plastic bottles each year, whilst also deploying plastic collection infrastructure where it is needed most.

How have you found working with intermediaries such as Farrer & Co?

Farrer & Co is unique in the way it looks after companies by putting the entrepreneurs first. The business advice, and also connections, that have been accessible to us stretches far beyond just legal support. We look forward to being a part of this network going forward.

If you require further information about anything covered in this briefing, please contact David Fletcher, or your usual contact at the firm on +44 (0)20 3375 7000.

This publication is a general summary of the law. It should not replace legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances.

© Farrer & Co LLP, June 2019

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