FROM ABANDONED FISHING NETS TO SUSTAINABLE CLOTHING
From abandoned fishing nets to sustainable clothing. Marine litter including abandoned fishing nets – also known as ghost nets – are a serious threat to marine ecosystems. In the EU, an estimated 20% of fishing gear is lost at sea, accounting for nearly a third of marine litter in European seas. The EU-funded and award-winning Redcycle project found a way to address the problem: giving old and abandoned fishing nets a new life by transforming them into high-quality fabrics to be used in technical clothing.
The idea behind Redcycle is to recover old fishing nets and turn them into clothing. To do so, Redcycle has brought together two economic sectors, the fisheries and textile industry and has quickly obtained tangible results – for the environment and for communities:
- The project ran an awareness campaign to encourage Basque fishers and local citizens to help collect lost fishing gear.
- Overall, 12 tonnes of lost or abandoned nets and other fishing gear were recycled. Manufacturing the same quantity of virgin polyamide would have required 18 tonnes of oil and generated 40 tonnes of CO2.
- The final clothing items won the Outdoor Industry Award 2017 in the sustainability category.
The Redcycle journey from old nets to new outdoor clothing
First, fishing nets were collected from the Bermeo, Getaria and Hondarribia associations of fishermen of Guipúzcoa and Vizcaya, both located in the Bay of Biscay.
After collection, the nets were cleaned and shred before starting their regeneration process, being turned back into raw material and becoming yarn. The final thread is the result of mixing of the recycled fishing nets with other recycled materials such as carpets.
Two different types of technical clothing were created from the recycled polyamide. And there is an additional bonus, too: clothing made from recycled polyamide can be recycled again when it reaches the end of its useful life.
The Redcycle operation is an innovative initiative that OPEGUI, a private fisheries association in the region Guipúzcoa in the Basque Country, carried out in cooperation with the outdoor clothing brand Ternua and with the approval of the Basque government. The project was supported by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).
Marine litter, including abandoned fishing gear, is a global problem. Upscaling of projects like Redcycle would render them economically viable beyond the local level and help to ensure healthy and sustainable seas, whilst contributing to economic development of local communities.