What are they and what harm are they doing?
Essentially a ghost net is a fishing net which hasn’t been recovered by the fishermen who use them. Sadly, many nets ( The Ocean Clean Up report 640,000 tonnes at last estimate) end up on our waterway and ocean floors causing massive damage to wildlife. The finer nets, made up of mono filament are especially dangerous. For instance, a seal could become entangled and as they grow the net will grow with the animal, causing it to penetrate the flesh leading to infection or possibly death through strangulation.
What can be done? – enter Odyssey Innovation
A pioneering group of artists, divers and activists based in the South West of the UK, set up by Rob Thompson, are recovering these nets with a voluntary group of divers called Fathoms Free. Odyssey Innovation
Alongside this, Odyssey with partners Beach Clean South West and Keep Britain Tidy, participate in beach cleans where they collect fishing nets and other rigid plastic for onward recycling. Exeter City Council take the rigid plastic and send it to repurposers for recycling in to a new product. Thereby, entering in to a closed loop system of diverting waste from landfill and incineration and allowing the material to remain in circulation for as long as possible.
Only part of the story
The collected beach rigid plastic will get a second life, as illustrated above. But Rob couldn’t find a recycler in the UK who could take the recovered marine fishing nets, along with end of life nets gathered from harbours across the UK, to reprocess them into new plastic consumables. After much research he came across Plastix , based in Denmark, who take the nets and turn them into recylate – otherwise known as plastic nurdles which can be reprocessed.
Check out their website for more detail. Their operation is quite jaw dropping. They are pioneering the repurposing of plastic marine pollutant.
So, what could these plastic ‘nurdles’ be used for?
Plastix have many partners that take the nurdles and produce a recycled plastic product. One such company is Pharma-Tech, also based in Denmark, who produce bottles for the health, beauty and pharmaceutical industries.
During my research for sustainable packaging for my haircare brand I asked for samples from Pharma-Tech. Not sure they would be suitable for my product, however, they may be suitable for a refill bottle. Definitely one to bear in mind.
Ecover and Proctor & Gamble are successfully using ocean reclaimed plastic and so let’s hope this becomes a commercially viable packaging option for manufacturers/brands.
Taking recycled plastic to a whole new level
Odyssey, in conjunction with Palm Equipment, have come up with a revolutionary concept of using the collected plastic from the beach cleans and fishing nets. During one of the beach cleans Rob Thompson had a light bulb moment. It occurred to him that he could make kayaks from the plastics gathered and then use these kayaks to gather more plastic. He has worked with Palm Equipment to make prototype kayaks. See Odyssey Innovation website and check out the videos on the process.
Six more prototype kayaks have now been created of varying styles, which are currently being used for campaigns throughout Europe to retrieve and raise awareness about marine plastic.
Kittie Kipper – fibre artist repurposing ghost nets & marine debris
The work of the above organisations in ridding our oceans of ghost fishing nets is amazing but what about other individuals who take the time out of their busy days to raise awareness of our horrendous plastic problem. Enter this amazing artist who takes the time to document her finds through #2minutebeachclean and repurposes the ghost nets she finds in to truly wonderful works of art.
This is one of her Instagram posts and it demonstrates her passion for plastic pollution and how we can all take small steps for big change.
Her work can be found at beachclean.net – I am in awe!
All of the above are true ocean advocates.