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A second life for ghost nets

A second life for ghost nets
A second life for ghost nets

In a village in southern India, fishermen are recovering fishing nets that have been abandoned or lost in the Indian Ocean. DSM Engineering Plastics and its partner Starboard, a paddleboard and surfboard manufacturer, will use the used nylon nets as a raw material: they will be given a new life as fins, stabilisers and other high-quality materials for surfboards and paddleboards.

Circular economy and eco-innovation

Once collected and sorted, they are sent to recycling warehouses where they are washed, cut, and converted into pellets that are subjected to strict quality control processes. The pellets will then be melted into a resin which will be strengthened with glass fibres with excellent functional properties. The result is a high-performance recycled polyamide called Akulon RePurposed, which is ready for the final step of conversion into sustainable and high-quality components for surfing and other water sports.

“One of the most rewarding aspects of our work is the challenge of re-designing our products in order to reduce their impact on the environment and improve their performance”, said Svein Rasmussen, founder and CEO of Starboard. “Thanks to this collaboration with DSM, we have shown how easy and quick it is to change the way in which we build boards that are better for the planet. Our goal is to continuously push the boundaries to achieve more eco-innovations for our customers.” In addition to addressing environmental concerns, the collection, sorting, cleaning and conversion of discarded fishing nets create sustainable livelihoods for several local communities in India.

Cleaner oceans and a source of employment

To date, the 2 partners’ initiative recycles 3,000 tonnes of nylon ghost nets per year, while contributing to creating new jobs and new skills in the areas of collecting, sorting, cleaning and converting fishing nets.

According to a report prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), around 640,000 tonnes of fishing nets are abandoned at sea, accounting for close to 10% of all ocean plastic waste.

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