Interface’s innovative Net Works programme helps ecosystems near and far
At Interface, we ask ourselves: How do we protect the environment? How do we make the world a better place? How do we do better business?
We don’t just talk about it. We act. Net Works is an innovative and effective programme that addresses a specific problem. Discarded fishing nets in some of the world’s poorest coastal communities have negative impacts for both the environment and the livelihoods of the people who live in these communities.
Teaming up with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Interface created a solid business solution with long-term positive impacts. Fishing nets are made from the same material that is used to make carpet yarn, but this material takes 600 years to degrade. They can become landfill or worse, be burned by villagers. Or, if disposed in the ocean, they become what are known as “ghost nets”, catching fish, and then reducing what villagers can catch, affecting income and livelihoods.
The solution is recycling. Not only does Interface receive a fully recycled source of nylon for carpet tile production, but the local community receives long-term incentives to protect their natural environment. Each partner in this programme contributes to the health of marine and freshwater ecosystems, while also providing financial opportunities to some of the poorest people in the world.
The program is currently run in the central Philippines with plans to set up a new program in Cameroon. Recently, Project Manager Amado “Madz” Blanco, shared some of his insights on the program based on visiting the communities involved with the project over the last two years.
Villagers explained that there’s been a clear decline in the stock of fish since the 1960s. They used to be able to use nets with a large mesh size and catch plenty of crabs and fish, but over time have had to use smaller and smaller mesh for their catches. This has made their old nets obsolete, and they’ve actually been keeping them since that time.
With a natural ecological philosophy, they didn’t want to burn or dispose of something “for nothing”. Villagers in this site in Negros Oriental were very happy, with the knowledge they could sell their old nets to the Net Works programme.
Others hear about the programme too late, after they’ve burned old nets, but in some cases, there are still nets at dump site that they can retrieve for recycling. At least, they’ll know from now on. Interface plans for the programme to continue and expand, and add to the nearly 40,000 kilograms of discarded nets that have been collected to date.