Name: Ally Mitchell.

Age: 37.

What is your business called?

We’re registered as Chamber 3 Ltd and trade as Ocean Plastic Pots.

Where is it based?


What does it produce?

Sustainable plant pots using recycled Polypropylene from discarded ropes and fishing nets, and hopefully soon plastic from our own collection programme at Dunbar harbour. Designed by myself, a commercial deep sea diver, the pots are manufactured here in Scotland and we’ve developed a circular economy product which provides a 26 co2 gram saving per plant pot and raises awareness of the ocean plastic problem, which is of grave concern wild wide.

To whom does it sell?

Direct to the customer as well as to retailers. We currently stock 42 shops throughout the UK as well as two in the United States, who sell our products around the world.

What is its turnover?

We project that our first year turnover to be around £160,000 and we’ve been trading for six months.

How many employees?

It’s a small team. There are four of us, three of whom are freelance.

When was it formed?

The company formed in December 2020, with the launch of our first 20cm plant pots.

Why did you take the plunge?

I was a salvage diver on a ship that ran aground north of Skye carrying 200 tonnes of plastic. The impact it had on my consciousness was huge. Having worked as a commercial diver for the last 13 years across the world I am profoundly aware of the scale of the ocean plastic problem. Our seas are drowning in the stuff. I wanted to try and do my bit to make some sort of difference and in lockdown last year I came up with the idea of creating plant pots from the waste material in our seas and encourage people to grow bee friendly plants in them, turning a negative into a positive.

Ocean Plastic Pots started in my shed. Through trial and error we made a plant pot using waste plastic with different alternative manufacturing techniques including compression moulding before investing in a hand powered, moulding machine and starting to work with beach plastic which we shredded for colour and rope and fishing net material. This taught us about the required heat time and mould tolerances for working with this material.

Manufacturing in low volumes we prototyped and sold a 5cm, 30g, plant pot at Leith Market in Edinburgh. Each market we attended would sell out, including 50 pots on our first day, validating our product concept, pricing strategy and allowing us to gain customer feedback. Our second prototype pot for a larger 7cm, 60g, plant pot with matching saucer also sold out but reached the limits of our homemade equipment.

in June 2020 we met a product design company in Glasgow who designed for us a 13cm,160g, Plant Pot mould utilising the knowledge gained from working with our raw material. Our tooling specifically has a low tolerance, to work with recycled material, which is coarser and harder to work with than virgin plastic. This process has given me a very good understanding of the moulding and product design process and a good base knowledge of plastic recycling.

How did you raise the start up funding?

Start up funding for the initial tooling was raised from my own savings and from there we funded an appearance at Chelsea Flower Show via my credit card! I’ve had no external finance. However we recently won funding in Scottish Edge Round 17. This provided us with some additional working capital; a huge boost.

What was your biggest break?

In Scottish Edge Round 17 we pitched to the panel asking for £20,000 and they rewarded us double, £40,000, which was unbelievable. In the same week to top things off the Royal Horticultural Society crowned Ocean Plastic Pots The RHS Chelsea Sustainable Product of the Year 2021. This is the first time that this particular award has been given, so it was a huge honour and privilege to receive it. The pots have also been admitted to the Museum of Plastic Design in Bournemouth.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

The most enjoyable thing about running the business is seeing how we can turn a waste material into a useful product and seeing our customers using the pots in everyday life to grow new life. That has been so rewarding.

What do you least enjoy?

Admittedly I’m not great at writing so answering emails is not high up my list of things to do. But I am getting better. You don’t do much writing or admin under the sea as a diver. My spelling is awful, and my wife says I use capital letters randomly!

What are your ambitions for the business?

Our aim is to bring out larger pots and we are looking to put our products into a Scottish department store as well as hotels, bars and restaurants.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

Our entire business is based on relationships and how you treat people. I think that is the most important thing in business.

How do you relax?

I love running and my main priority is spending time with my wife and two young children. Having not been offshore as much over the last year has meant I can be at home more and take my kids to school. It’s the little things like that which mean so much.