Net-Works, a social entrepreneurship initiative from carpet manufacturer Interface and conservation charity Zoological Society of London (ZSL), has since 2012 collected more than 66,860 kilos of nets from residents in 14 collection sites in Danajon Bank and the Bantayan Islands, according to a recent announcement.
In addition, the program has yielded 508 memberships in community banks, with the opportunity to earn supplemental income through the sale of nets, as well as access to financial infrastructure via locally-established CoMSCAs (Community Managed Credit and Savings Associations) or local microfinance initiatives.
Net-Works is the first inclusive business model of its kind to combine the conservation and livelihood expertise of ZSL and the business know-how of Interface to integrate fishing communities in the Philippines into the global carpet company's supply chain as a source of recycled nylon, Interface says.
Following the successful pilot of the net collection hubs established in Danajon Bank and the Bantayan Islands, Net-Works has announced both local and global expansion, with a third collection hub activated in Northern Iloilo in the Philippines, and a hub currently being established in the Lake Ossa region of Cameroon, where nets used for freshwater fishing create a similar environmental challenge.
Interface and ZSL are partnered with yarn supplier Aquafil, as well as with Philippine-based partners Southern Partners and Fair Trade Corporation and Negro Women for Tomorrow Foundation to build a model for inclusive business that is closing the loop on marine plastics, providing the opportunity to earn supplemental income for some of the world's most disadvantaged people, and helping Interface reach its goal of sustainable manufacturing.
Abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear — including nets — makes up about 10 percent of marine waste globally, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Net-Works has shown that it is possible to tackle this growing environmental problem while also empowering some of the most disadvantaged communities in the Philippines to join a global supply chain by taking care of their local environment. Collected fishing nets are turned into carpet tiles, supporting Interface's Mission Zero goal to source 100 percent recycled material.
In 2013, Interface announced its participation in 'Healthy Seas, a Journey from Waste to Wear' — an initiative designed to address the growing environmental problem of marine waste.