Coral Eyewear: New startup creates sunglasses out of abandoned fishing nets

Coral Eyewear, a unique planet-positive eyewear brand that creates sunglasses out of fishing nets, has received investment from TV broadcaster and entrepreneur, Jake Humphrey.

George Bailey, a student at University of East Anglia (UEA) is the co-founder of Coral Eyewear. The company creates designer glasses and sunglasses made from fishing nets rescued from the ocean.

Bailey, who studies Philosophy, Politics and Economics, first started Coral Eyewear in 2019 with the help of UEA’s Student Enterprise Service and investment from the University’s £50,000 ‘Scale It’ award.

Recently, Bailey was accepted onto a brand new ‘Year in Enterprise’ course, pioneered by the School of Economics. This new course allows the young entrepreneur to focus on business full-time for the next 12 months.

Coral Eyewear has received the backing and financial investment from entrepreneur, philanthropist and TV personality, Jake Humphrey

Together, Bailey and Humphrey have launched products which are available for pre-order via public benefit corporation, Kickstarter.

Investment secured

Humphrey got behind Coral Eyewear after he was inspired by 20-year old Bailey’s vision for sustainable eyewear. 

The brand has launched its first range of designer glasses and sunglasses via Kickstarter. Every pair is created from ocean plastic and fabric saved from landfill.

Early supporters of Coral Eyewear will benefit from exclusive prices and complimentary prescription lenses by pledging to the campaign, which runs until 30 July.

Humphrey has said:

Coral Eyewear has the opportunity to change how we see the entire eyewear industry. It’s unacceptable that almost all of the 9 million of pairs of glasses and sunglasses sold in the UK every year use virgin plastic. Coral uses recycled fishing nets instead- it’s genius!”

This is not the first time Humphrey has supported students at UEA. In 2018, with his wife Harriet, Humphrey launched a scholarship Film, Television and Media Studies for a student from a low-income household. This scholarship helped to cover the student’s tuition fees and living costs. 

Humphrey has said concerning his passion to help the younger generation, “Norfolk is packed with smart, driven, creative young people like George. It is time to pay it forward.”

Why now is the time to clean our oceans 

600,000 tonnes of fishing nets are thought to be abandoned in our oceans every year. These nets can take up to 600 years to break down. 

During this time, tiny fragments called microplastics are ingested by animals. World Animal Protection estimates just one abandoned net entangles 30-40 marine animals per year.

Speaking proudly of his start-up, Bailey has stated, “By investing in our Kickstarter campaign, you’re joining the early stages of a business that is focused on making a significant environmental and social impact.” 

To meet global sustainability goals, we have to develop the circular economy. Rescuing and regenerating plastic waste is a great first step, but what makes our business unique within the industry is the frame recycling scheme which should turn off the plastic tap.”

Bailey continued
How are the glasses made?

The Coral Eyewear frames are injection moulded, using:

  • ECONYL
  • Pellets of recycled nylon, created from regenerated ocean fishing nets. 
  • Fabric scraps from landfill. 

The ECONYL process reduces the global warming impact of nylon by 80% when compared with the material from oil. The frames are also tumbled for smoothness rather than using environmentally-damaging lacquer, gloss or varnish.

Coral Eyewear frames can be infinitely recycled, with those needing new pairs able to send their frames back for recycling with 10% off the next order. 

The team includes Bailey’s Father, Calvin Bailey, who has more than 30 years of experience in the eyewear industry, and two UEA student interns.

Bailey hopes to launch a Climate Change scholarship in the future, which will offer students the financial security to carry out planet-positive research.

People are becoming increasingly aware of how small steps in the right direction will help with climate change,” Humphrey stated. “Because Coral Eyewear are beautifully designed and handmade, we prove that you can still look good without damaging the planet.”

Helen Adams

Helen Adams is an Editor and Senior Writer for CleanTech News. A keen journalist, Helen developed an appreciation for the need for change in the battle against climate change after travelling and is passionate to communicate this through her work at CleanTech News. Now studying for her NCTJ Journalism MA, Helen wants to champion clean developments using her writing. Presently, Helen is developing her data journalism, video-making and podcasting skills which she is looking forward to incorporating into her role as Editor.