Interface casts a wide net for the environment
Global carpet tile manufacturer Interface, Inc. and conservation
charity the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) are celebrating the
successful completion of a pilot project and the start of a
commercial venture with both conservation and socio-economic
benefits. The innovative collaboration, called Net-Works, has
been created to tackle the growing environmental problem of
discarded fishing nets in some of the world's poorest coastal
By establishing a community-based supply chain for discarded
nets, Net-Works aims to improve the livelihood of local fishers,
while providing Interface with an innovative source of recycled
materials for its carpet tiles. Discarded nets on the beaches or in
the sea have a detrimental effect on the environment and marine
life as they can persist for centuries. But, most nylon from these
fishing nets is the same material used to make carpet yarn.
The viability of the collaboration was proven between June and
October 2012. After conducting research and working closely
with local communities and NGOs, Net-Works established the
infrastructure to collect the fishing nets, gathering one metric
ton of nets in the first month -and substantially cleaning up the
beaches in four local communities near Danajon Bank, a threatened
coral reef in the Philippines. Operations are now scaling up,
with the intention of developing commercial carpet tiles
incorporating the collected nets later this year.
Collection systems will now be set up in at least 15 local
villages, involving more than 280 impoverished households (the
equivalent of 1,400 people based on an average household size of
five). The goal is to collect 20 metric tons of nets by the
end of April-a significant amount that will generate funds directly
for communities and make a positive difference, given that family
incomes in the area are typically less than $192 a month.
Nigel Stansfield, Chief Innovation Officer at Interface says,
"It is really gratifying to see that the concept we've developed
with ZSL works and promises so much. At Interface, we are
designing for a higher purpose-and feel a sense of responsibility
beyond the products we sell. The collected fishing nets have
a nylon that can be recycled directly back into our carpet tiles,
which will help us reduce our use of virgin raw materials and,
critically, create livelihood opportunities for local communities.
We are now looking forward to expanding operations and delivering
the first carpet tiles from our collaboration."
Dr. Nick Hill from ZSL says, "Net-Works has been greeted with a
huge amount of enthusiasm and interest from the local communities
around Danajon Bank. This was clearly seen by the number of people
interested in participating in the project and turning out to clear
the beaches of discarded nets. Nets are very light, and we always
knew our target of collecting one tonne of nets from such a small
number of communities was going to be a challenge - so we're
delighted that we have been able to achieve this. It is still early
and we will be monitoring both the environmental and socio-economic
impacts of the project over the coming year, but the signs are
there that these impacts will be positive."
Throughout 2013, Interface and ZSL will explore opportunities to
expand their partnership to other parts of the world. They
also plan to develop a toolkit to help other groups and
organizations establish Net-Works supply hubs.
Source: ABC CArbon Newsletter and www.canadianinteriors.com
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