Interface, programme NetWorks

Net-Works makes new things with old fishing nets

Posted on 17 February 2016.

In the Central Visayas region in the Philippines, Interface retrieves abandoned fishing nets and recycles them to produce carpet tiles.

Behind Interface’s "Mission Zero" commitment is the crazy ambition to eliminate all negative impacts on the environment by 2020.

The Danajon coast, in the center of the Philippines, is one of only six double coral barrier reefs on the planet. This unique and little known biological treasure provides the island village people with their main livelihood. But it is under threat. Overfishing, pollution and stray fishing nets have significantly damaged this fragile ecosystem, causing a shortage of fish.

In 2012 in the Central Visayas, the carpet tile manufacturer Interface decided to launch the first Net-Works pilot project in partnership with the nonprofit Zoological Society of London. The aim is to create a community supply chain for nets abandoned in the water and on the shoreline. With the support of local partners, Interface has set up several collection sites scattered throughout the area where fishermen can sell used nets. These are shipped to Aquafil, an Interface supplier, and recycled using an innovative manufacturing process that produces nylon fibers from textile waste. The Net-Works program provides a solution to the environmental problem associated with stray fishing nets, is source of additional income for local people and a rich source of recycled materials.

Since the 1990s, Interface has made sustainable development and promoting the circular economy central to its business strategy. It’s a gamble in a sector where the principal raw material is oil and where manufacturing processes are particularly energy-intensive! But behind this approach is a crazy ambition: to eliminate any negative impact on the environment by 2020. A promise, called "Mission Zero", revolves around seven key objectives: zero waste, eliminating harmful emissions, using renewable energy, recycling (closed loop), optimizing transport, raising awareness, and a new business model. It translates into concrete action: technological innovations to reduce dependence on oil (this year, Interface has created the first latex substitute in the world, from recycled windshields); creating sustainable plants such as the one in Scherpenzeel in the Netherlands, which is powered by renewable energy and gas from fish waste from a nearby business; recycling programs such as ReEntry, which consists of recovering carpets and carpet tiles at the end of their useful lives to make new products, and of course... Net-Works.

To date, the Net-Works program has enabled Interface to recover 61,845 kg of nets - 41,803 kg has been turned into carpet. With this first success, the company now wants to expand the initiative to the Lake Ossa region in Cameroon.

Interface, programme NetWorks