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Interface Joins Initiative Turning Marine Plastic 'from Waste to Wear'

Image credit: Open Knowledge

Innovative carpet-tile manufacturer and environmental pioneer Interface has announced its participation in 'Healthy Seas, a Journey from Waste to Wear' — a new initiative designed to address the growing environmental problem of marine waste. Interface is the first flooring company to participate in this global program, founded by yarn manufacturer Aquafil, conservation group ECNC Land & Sea Group, and Dutch manufacturer Star Sock, as part of Interface's long-term 'Mission Zero' sustainability goal.

The issue of marine waste is vast. According to a report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), there are approximately 640,000 tons of abandoned fishing nets in the oceans, accounting for one-tenth of all marine litter. These discarded nets can remain in the sea for centuries, continuing to catch or injure marine life such as fish, dolphins, turtles and marine birds (known as ghost fishing). The Healthy Seas initiative aims to provide a solution by bringing together businesses, NGOs, divers, fishermen and other stakeholders to recover the fishing nets and recycle them into ECONYL(r) yarn that can be used for a wide range of textile products, including carpets, swimwear, underwear, high-tech clothing and sportswear.

"Interface is delighted to be involved in the Healthy Seas initiative as it works to help tackle the growing environmental problem of marine debris on an industry-wide scale,” said Interface VP & Chief Innovations Officer Nigel Stansfield. “We are strong advocates of scavenging waste from one industry for use in another, and see this as a natural extension of the work we are already doing within our own business to convert waste into valuable raw materials for new products. We are proud to be doing something that we feel strongly about for the good of the wider textiles industry and, crucially, for the good of the environment."

The Healthy Seas initiative will commence with a series of pilots in Europe. Work is already underway in the North Sea, where more than 20 tons of nets have been collected so far. The next phase of activity will recover and recycle nets from the Adriatic Sea (Italy, Slovenia and Croatia) and the Mediterranean Sea (Spain). An education program is also planned to discourage fishers from abandoning their nets and promoting responsible disposal of used nets.  

Interface is working on a number of waste-to-resource initiatives of its own, including the like-for-like recycling of old carpet tiles into new carpet products through its breakthrough ReEntry™ 2.0 process, and the creation of a community-based supply chain for discarded fishing nets in partnership with The Zoological Society of London. Called Net-Works™, this innovative project delivers socio-economic benefits in poor coastal communities while providing recycled content for new Interface carpet tiles.  

SB Issues in Focus To learn more about innovative ways companies worldwide are eliminating waste, check out our Issue in Focus: #WasteNot.

Jennifer Elks is Managing Editor at Sustainable Brands. She is a writer, editor and foodie who is passionate about improving food systems, closing loops and creating more livable cities. She loves cooking, wine, cooking with wine, correcting spelling errors in… [Read more about Jennifer Elks]

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