Curiosity is such a nice thing!
According to a joint report by the FAO and UNEP, an estimated 640,000 tons of fishing gear are left in the oceans each year, accounting for one-tenth of all marine litter. These nets, sometimes called “ghost” fishing nets, can often be found on and around shipwrecks. These nets remain in the marine ecosystem for hundreds of years. Many marine animals are captured and killed in the nets, and this has a negative effect on marine ecosystems.
Waste fishing nets are part of the massive amount of litter in seas and oceans. Plastic marine debris – also called ‘plastic soup’ – is now found in every ocean on the planet. Plastic marine debris comes from fishing gear, offshore platforms and ships. However, around 80 % comes from land – litter that is washed into rivers and out to seas and oceans. The illegal dumping of garbage in seas and oceans is also a problem.
Waste fishing nets are often found on shipwrecks which form breeding places for sea life, especially in areas where there is intensive human activity, such as fisheries. The localized nature of nets creates ecological problems for ecosystems and species but allows focused recovery actions. The killing of marine animals by waste fishing nets illustrates to the wider public very well the problem caused by marine litter.
There are several important initiatives to clean up and safeguard the seas. The Healthy Seas initiative is special for various reasons: it is a joint venture of non-governmental organisations and businesses to clean the oceans and seas. The nets that are collected by the Healthy Seas initiative are not dumped into landfills or burned in waste processing facilities. Instead, they are recycled in order to create high-quality products. Sustainability is the focus, from both the environmental and economic point of view. Healthy Seas brings many stakeholders and initiatives together: divers, fishermen, shipping companies, NGOs, governments as well as recycling and production companies, creating new products such as socks, swimwear and carpets and more.
Nofir is responsible for the transport, sorting and cleaning of the nets we collect. The nylon parts are sent to Aquafil’s factory in Slovenia to enter into the ECONYL® regeneration system while other types of plastic nets are given to others for recycling, for example Bracenet, a company that uses other type of fishing nets (polyethylene, polypropylene). The rest of the materials could be reused (by fishermen or for displays, exhibitions, school programs) or are becoming waste-to-energy (through incineration).
The cleaned fishing nets are delivered to a plant in Ljubljana, Slovenia, where they are prepared for the ECONYL® Regeneration System. The recycling in Slovenia is an innovative process to regenerate waste fishing nets and make nylon yarn. The regenerated nylon yarn is called ECONYL® and has the same qualities as virgin nylon from fossil raw material. ECONYL® is a trademark of Aquafil, a company based in Arco, Italy.
Many products can be made with ECONYL® yarn: swimwear, socks, underwear, high-tech clothing and sportswear. Also, you can find ECONYL® carpet tiles and carpet flooring at different suppliers in both Europe and the USA.
Polyethylene (PE) netting, used for trawl nets for example, are made in colors that are related to the factory and brand, so each brand can more or less be identified by their own colors.
PA (nylon) and PES (polyester) netting are white. Gillnets are made to look invisible.
You can help in many ways. For instance, by telling your family, friends and business contacts about the Healthy Seas initiative, and why it is so important to stop polluting the seas and oceans with our litter. You can organise local actions to remove litter from the seas and beaches. If you are a qualified diver and have safe equipment, you can assist in removing waste nets from the sea. You can also assist in local awareness activities and actions.
The only difference between recycled ECONYL® yarn and regular nylon yarn is its origin, the fact that it is 100% regenerated from waste. There are no other differences in performance or quality. All fibres lose tiny particles when they are washed. We are fully aware of this problem and follow the latest research on this issue. Our partners carefully monitor all the materials that they incorporate into their products and use in their production processes. Also, it is worth mentioning that fishing nets ultimately lead to microplastic debris if they are left in the water for a long time, so it is better for the environment to recover them and regenerate them into new yarn.
Healthy Seas is not a company but an environmental initiative. We are not involved in recycling or product development; our partners are doing that. All nets we collect enter the ECONYL® Regeneration System (www.econyl.com) or will become Bracenets thanks to Nofir. If you are interested to use the regenerated nylon yarn or the fabrics, we suggest that you contact the manufacturer Aquafil at firstname.lastname@example.org
Together we can make
a positive impact for the planet!