Old fishing nets are a threat to marine wildlife. But sustainable pioneers are finding ways to solve the problem of „ghost nets“.
This is our last blogpost before the next application phase begins. By the end of April we will announce the startups that advance into the final round. But for now we want to draw attention to a serious topic: ocean plastic debris in form of „ghost nets“.
30 million elephants of plastic waste
We are sure that you all know that plastic pollution in our oceans is a huge problem. Following the Ocean Conservancy up to 150 million metric tons of plastics currently circulate our marine environments. Assumed an elephant weighs around 5 tons, the plastic debris in our oceans is the equivalent to round about 30.000.000 million elephants in weight. This is an insane amount of trash.
Death-bringing ghost nets
Altough „only“ 1 million tons of plastic waste per year can be traced back to fishery, the waste of fishery is the most dangerous. Due to the structure of these fishing nets, many animals get stuck and tangled up in them. Floating around unable to move, most of these animals can’t free themselves and are left to die. Many scientists consider them the most dangerous threat to marine wildlife. This shows how important it is, to free the oceans of these so called “ghost nets”. The picture above shows the severe impact those „ghost nets“ are having on the marine environment.
When it comes to cleaning up the ocean there are already some good ideas. Sustainable pioneers like the team of “The Ocean Cleanup” for example use wind and the current to collect floating trash. The following question to this kind of solution is: What can we do with collected (plastic)-trash from our oceans? Can we recycle and reuse it on a global scale?
There are several great ideas of what to do with the trash that gets collected or is swept on our shores. The idea with the biggest media resonance is for sure the “FlipFlopi-Expedition”. A team of sustainable pioneers build a boat entirely made of plastic collected on beaches and roadsides in Kenya. They used over ten tons of plastic waste and reused over 30.000 flip-flops, thus the name “FlipFlopi”. They then made trips of over 500 km to raise awareness to the pressing problem of plastic pollution that threatens our oceans. This is one way to reuse the “ocean-trash”, but it serves for this idea alone and may not fully solve the question of what to do with it on a global scale.
A solution that is as awesome as the FlipFlop-Boat is provided by a startup called “Bureo”. They really have an unique idea of what to do with the plastic debris. Their approach is called upcycling: Since Ocean Plastics is there, why not use it and create something good out of it that has several areas of applications? Ocean plastic may not always be useless debris.
In cooperation with over 50 fisheries off the coast of South America these sustainable pioneers start to make an impact. While on the sea, fishing boats collect old fishing nets floating around. After their tour they bring the old fishing nets back to the harbors were they are collected by Bureo. After they were brought on land, the old nets are cleaned and cut into plastic pellets. In cooperation with some local and global brands these recycled plastic materials are then processed into new products, such as shades, skateboards or surfboards. The special thing about these pellets are their amazing quality that makes them usable for creating other products.
On the left you can see a skateboard that originated through the collaboration of Carver Skateboards and Bureo.
This process is a major key to boost the circular economy and thus may prevent waste to even enter the oceans. We know that this is only a small step to reach the goal of a sustainable planet. Nonetheless we are happy to see people coming up with creative ideas all over the globe. Upcycling is a concept that could be a bigger part of the process.
We are always happy to get to know sustainable pioneers like the people behind Bureo. If you want to be a sustainable pioneer as well, we would be glad to help you get there. Despite our first batch being closed you can still submit ideas to us at any time. If we think your idea is awesome we will get in touch with you. Just click on the link embedded in „submit“!