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01/08/2013 04:41 PM     print story email story  

Interface Turns Fishing Nets Into Carpet

SustainableBusiness.com News

Most of you are aware of the enormous amount of plastic in the world's oceans, and soon you'll be helping to clean it up by buying carpet from Interface.

The sustainablity leader is working on various ways to create carpet nylon from plant-based materials like castor oil, and is now looking to recycling old plastic from fishing nets.

Interface sells a line made entirely of recycled yarn, called Biosfera, and last year it launched a series of recycling hubs across North America.

Now it's expanding on a successful pilot project in the Philippines, where it's building a community-based supply chain for recycled fishing nets. They intend to develop commercial carpet tiles made from the plastic later this year.

In partnership with the Zoological Society of London, "Net-Works" fisherman collected a ton of fishing net in the first month and cleaned up beaches in four communities near a threatened coral reef.

That's expanding to 15 villages, where it will benefit about 280 poor households with new-found income.  They are also offering incentives to fisherman that bring nets back to shore when they wear out.

Fishing Nets

"In this ecologically fragile coral reef area, thousands of families eke out their living by fishing the local waters. But they also leave behind thousands of miles of discarded nets each year - enough to cover the bank 400 times over," says Interface.

Fishing nets last only a few months and most small-scale fishermen (which make up a large percentage of the world's fishing population) simply throw them in the water.

In fact, abandoned and lost fishing gear makes up about 10% of the garbage in the world's oceans, according to the United Nations, trapping fish and other sea animals in nets.

Interface is committed to eliminating its carbon footprint by 2020, and phasing out virgin petroleum products is a big part of that.

"By partnering with ZSL and other experts, our objective is to convert ‘waste' from the environment - in this case, discarded fishing nets - into raw materials for our own manufacturing. And what's really special is that at the same time we are aiming to create livelihood opportunities for some of the world's poorest, coastal communities - communities that are often overlooked," says chief innovations officer Nigel Stansfield.

44% of the raw materials used for carpets in 2011 were sourced from recycled or plant-based sources, up from 40% in 2010, and 4% in 2004. 



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