Discarded fishing nets are being transformed into carpet tiles under a scheme called Net-Works, a collaboration between the Zoological Society of London, Project Seahorse Foundation for Marine Conservation, yarn producer Aquafil and carpet manufacturer Interface. The initiative is not only reducing marine waste, but also providing new sources of income for fisheries in some of the world’s poorest coastal communities.
As fishing nets are made from nylon, they are an ideal material for producing carpet yarn. By salvaging this waste stream, Interface saw an opportunity to create a closed-loop, inclusive business model. It has developed an upcycling process with its yarn supplier Aquafil to take waste nylon – not just from fishing nets, but from used carpet fluff and industrial offcuts – and repurpose it into 100% recycled nylon fiber with the same quality and performance as virgin fiber.
The Net-Works scheme began as an initial pilot in 2012 with four fisheries near Danajon Bank in the Philippines. In the first month, one ton of nets were collected for reprocessing. It has since been expanded to involve more local communities and hopes to scale up further to other regions such as India and West Africa.
The circular economy places an emphasis on the sharing of physical resources through a more collaborative form of consumption where customers pay for the benefit of using a product, rather than owning it outright. Companies will sell usage of their products through leasing or access arrangements allowing them to retain ownership of these goods through the entire lifecycle, extending their performance through maintenance, repair and reuse.