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Interface Net-Works

Challenge

Develop a system for recovering and recycling discarded fishing nets into carpet tiles.

Problem

Interface is a carpet tile manufacturer with a visionary target to eliminate its negative impact on the Earth by 2020.Their business model, to lease floor coverings, is an example of ‘closed loop’ manufacturing. The floor coverings are recyclable on return, using a process where components such as the nylon used in the tufted yarn cover of the tile is separated and recycled. However, some virgin material supplements recovery losses and growth in the business.

Fishing nets are made from nylon – often the same nylon used to make carpet yarn – and Interface recognised an opportunity to salvage the waste nets frequently discarded because of wear and tear. In developing countries, artisanal fishers leave their nets on beaches or in the sea, typically leading to damage of the fisheries they rely on.

Solution

Interface teamed up with the Zoological Society of London, Project Seahorse Foundation for Marine Conservation and 100%Open to tackle the growing problem of discarded fishing nets in some of the world’s poorest coastal communities. The result was the Net-Works partnership which started with a trial on Danajon Bank, located off northern Bohol Island, in the Philippines. In Danajon Bank the problem of environmental damage 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. The area has one of the most degraded coral reefs in the world, and the estimated quantity of nylon fishing net discarded each year is enough to cover the length of Danajon Bank more than 400 times.

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. This is a viable business model that benefits the fishermen by protecting the fishery, and uses organised community groups to collect, process and transport the nets in return for income that will be used to fund livelihood development schemes.

Benefits

Improve the coastal and marine ecosystems and protect biodiversity
Create income opportunities for local communities
Protect the fishery
Reduce waste from discarded nets
Reduce dependence on non-renewable feedstocks (oil)
Demonstrate that collaboration can create sustainable business models with commercial, environmental and social benefits

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