Back of the net for Interface recovery drive

Global carpet tile manufacturer Interface plans to scale up its community-based scheme that sees old fishing nets recovered and converted into yarn.

In collaboration with the conservation charity, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the scheme called Net-Works, has been created to tackle the growing environmental problem of discarded fishing nets in some of the world’s poorest coastal communities.

Net-Works aims to establish a community-based supply chain for discarded nets, to improve the livelihood of local fishermen, while providing Interface with a source of recycled materials for its carpet tiles.

Piloting the scheme between June and October 2012, proved the operation could become a viable commercial venture with the bonus of conservation and socio-economic benefits. 

In the first month of the pilot, one tonne of discarded fishing nets were gathered on the beaches in four local communities near Danajon Bank, a threatened coral reef in the Philippines.

Net-Works’ next goal is the collection of 20 tonnes of nets by the end of April and the infrastructure will be set up in at least 15 local villages, involving more than 280 impoverished households.

Interface chief innovation officer Nigel Stansfield said: “It is really gratifying to see that the concept we’ve developed with ZSL works and promises so much. At Interface, we are designing for a higher purpose – and feel a sense of responsibility beyond the products we sell.

“The collected fishing nets have a nylon that can be recycled directly back into our carpet tiles, which will help us reduce our use of virgin raw materials and, critically, create livelihood opportunities for local communities. We are now looking forward to expanding operations and delivering the first carpet tiles from our collaboration.”

Interface and ZSL hope to explore opportunities to expand their partnership to other parts of the world over the coming year and plan to develop a toolkit to help other groups and organisations establish Net-Works supply hubs.

Read here for the background story and interview with Nigel Stansfield

Conor McGlone

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