It is estimated that our oceans hold 640,000 tons of discarded fishing gear. This “Ghost Gear” refers to any fishing gear that has been abandoned, lost, or discarded, often due to severe weather and other circumstances. Old nylon nets often end up in landfills, but more likely end up in our oceans where large sea creatures such as dolphins, sea lions, whales, and sea turtles can get tangled. According to a study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050 if we continue to discard plastics, nets, and gear at this rate.
Under the Healthy Seas initiative, organizations and companies are working together to come up with innovative ways to recycle this cast-off plastic and nylon material to create usable and sustainable apparel, soft goods, and building materials.
Aquafil is an Italian based textile company that recently opened its first U.S. based recycling facility in Phoenix, Arizona. Old carpets and fishing nets are broken down into nylon that is then shipped to their Slovenian processing facility. Through a process called ‘Depolymerisation’, the Italian firm turns salvaged and collected fishing nets into a unique yarn that can be used to make consumer goods.