People think that recycling is a new idea, but when we were kids we used to search the streets all day for discarded glass bottles which all had a deposit on them.
When we had collected enough of them we would ‘cash them in’ at the local shop in exchange for sweets and ‘pop’.
Of course, we didn’t realise it at the time but we were trail-blazing for the Green recycling movement which would begin many years later. It was also a Win-Win situation for us, with a cleaner town and cash in our pockets.
Now an Italian company, Aquafil, have started to recycle lost fishing nets.
Every year around 600,000 tonnes of fishing gear is lost in our seas, and these nylon ‘Ghost Nets’ are non-biodegradable and continue to kill fish and sea-creatures – potentially for hundreds of years.
The recycling company, works with the Healthy Seas Initiative, whose divers retrieve the nets. The best quality nets are made from ‘Nylon 6’, a polymer, which, when recycled, does not downgrade in quality, and produces a first-grade nylon yarn which can be used for a range of products from carpets to swimwear!
Last year the company produced around 40 million kilometers of this spaghetti-like yarn, known as ECONYL, from old fishing nets!
My little recycling scheme was a Win-Win, but this one really is a Win-Win-Win, not only tidying up the environment and making money for the company to employ staff, but also saving long-term suffering and waste of our marine wildlife.
So next time you buy a nylon product, check the label for the ‘ECONYL’ brand – and stop and think for a moment. Your new product may well have been an old fishing net in a ‘past life’ on the bottom of the sea.
In the USA much of the Ghost Net retrieval work is undertaken by a federal agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA). Their Marine Debris Program also operates a collection service for unwanted nets, all of which are converted into energy. Approximately one ton of old nets will produce enough electricity to power one home for 25 days!