Cornish diving business on course for plastic-free future with HSBC UK funding

A Cornish company which designs and manufactures innovative diving equipment is on track to meet its 2020 sustainability targets after securing a six-figure finance package from HSBC UK.

Fourth Element, which provides high-performance and eco-friendly equipment for diving professionals and enthusiasts around the world, hopes to completely eliminate single-use plastic from its operations by the end of 2020 after already removing 4,000 kilograms of plastic – the equivalent of almost 300,000 1.5 litre plastic bottles – from its products since 2017. This is in addition to the removal of 110,000 plastic bags from its packaging processes.

The finance facility from HSBC UK has been used to support the business through the coronavirus outbreak when its plans to remove all single-use plastics were put on hold as lockdown measures were introduced. Amongst other things, the government-backed Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) loan has helped Fourth Element continue plans to develop a first-of-its-kind divesuit made from natural and recycled materials, which will launch in shops and online in August.

Jim Standing, Co-Founder of Fourth Element, said: “The ocean is at the core of our brand and sadly, we see the negative effects of plastic in our seas first-hand. This has made us acutely aware of the need to protect this precious resource and keep it free of plastic pollution, which is why we ourselves pledged to remove all single-use plastics from our business and urged others in our industry to do the same.

“If every organisation in the diving industry eliminated or even reduced its single-use plastic waste by 70%, it would mean hundreds of tonnes of plastic could be removed from the ocean every year. With the help of HSBC UK, and in particular our relationship manager Leigh Durrant, we are on track to achieving our sustainability targets and look forward to continuing to make a positive impact on our environment.”

Mark Self, Area Director for Devon, Cornwall and Somerset, HSBC UK, added: “Jim and Paul are incredibly passionate about diving, as well as helping other organisations become more environmentally friendly. Plastics in our oceans are a huge problem so we’re delighted to be supporting a company which is making a concerted effort to keep them out. We are confident the business will continue to do great things in the future and inspire others in the sector to do the same.”

Fourth Element, which was co-founded by friends Jim Standing and Paul Strike in 2001, made the pledge to eliminate single-use plastics in October 2017 and first turned to HSBC UK shortly after to help make their dream a reality.

Since then, the business has presented its vision for a circular plastic-based economy at the United Nations Ocean conference in New York, made more than 50% of its product line from recycled materials and conducted company beach cleans in Cornwall, resulting in 2.5 tonnes of plastic and fishing net being removed from the ocean.