Global carpet tile manufacturer Interface has teamed up with conservation charity the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) to tackle the growing problem of discarded fishing nets in some of the world’s poorest coastal communities.

The announcement, which coincides with World Ocean Day, sees the unveiling of a pilot launch – the Net-Works partnership – that will trial the scheme on Danajon Bank in the Philippines.

The scheme will not only address a major environmental issue, but aims to deliver social and commercial benefits through improving the livelihood of local fishers, while providing Interface with a novel source of recycled materials for its carpet tiles.

Fishing nets are made from different types of nylon, often the same nylon used to make carpet yarn, which is why Interface is keen to capture more of this material.

The nets are frequently discarded due to wear and tear and then replaced. In developing countries, artisanal fishers leave their nets on beaches or in the sea, marine pollution often results.

In Danajon Bank the problem is particularly acute, but the fishers are often living in extreme hardship and locked into declining fisheries with few opportunities to break the cycle of poverty and environmental degradation.

Interface’s chief innovation officer Nigel Stansfield said the initiative formed part of the company’s Mission Zero goal to eliminate its negative impact on the Earth by 2020.

“Phasing out our reliance on virgin raw materials is a big part of this,” he explained. “Our objective is to convert waste from the environment – in this case, discarded fishing nets – into raw materials for our own manufacturing.

” This is a great example of organisations from different sectors coming together and pushing the boundaries – collaborating on a project with the potential to be good for the environment, for society and for the bottom line.”

The pilot will see Net-Works collaborate with local experts, fishing communities and conservation group Project Seahorse Foundation for Marine Conservation. Organised community groups will collect, process and transport the nets in return for payment that will be used to fund livelihood development schemes.

Interface’s sustainability director Ramon Arratia is one of edie’s featured guest bloggers. You can read his latest thoughts here on how manufacturers need to push themselves and go beyond zero waste.

Maxine Perella

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