The figures are alarming: up to 640,000 tons of fishing nets are adrift in our seas and oceans. In other words, an amount that represents 27% of the rubbish accumulated in their waters. As such, we have two major reasons for giving the problem its own name: “ghost nets”. Sectors such as the textile industry have been aware of the enormous potential of this waste for some time now: recovering 200 tons of this specific material is enough to produce 20,000 metres of fabric. Now, the retail sector has taken a step forward by creating its own solution and marketing the first range of supermarket carts made from recycled fishing nets.
Why are ghost nets a problem?
First of all, because this rubbish should not be dumped in the natural environment, but also due to the fact it is estimated to cause the death of up to 100,000 animals. The ghost fishing cycle is as alarming as it is easy to explain:
The nets are left to their fate in the oceans. As registered in thousands of images, animals become trapped in the nets are trapped in them and their own weight drags them down to the sea bed. The animal then dies and the lighter net is able to float around again, trapping more fish and creating a cycle that can only be stopped by removing this waste from the water.
Can these nets be given a second life?
Fortunately, the answer is yes. As we have already pointed out, a considerable number of textile companies are already doing this. They have now been joined by the retail equipment invested in by supermarkets in the form of the Araven Oceanis line: these supermarket baskets and carts are manufactured with 25% recycled plastic from fishing nets and ropes. This material is purchased from several European ports to be processed at specialised plants where it is transformed into pellets, the material used to manufacture these recycled carts.
In this way, pursuant to the principles of the circular economy, a material that has reached the end of its useful life is transformed into a new one. More specifically, Oceanis baskets and trolleys involve the reuse of 1.5 metres of 2-cm thick rope, which on ending up in the water would threaten fish, turtles and marine mammals, undermining their habitat throughout the 600 years a fishing net takes to decompose.
Furthermore, the emergence of recycled plastic self-service carts has resulted in an active contribution to reducing the emission of polluting gases. Indeed, each kilogram of virgin polypropylene is equivalent to 2.5 kg of CO₂, which in the case of recycling is reduced to 0.3 kg: or 80% less. Therefore, opting for one of these supermarket trolleys means doing your bit to reduce emissions generated by this manufacturing activity by 20%.
A firm commitment to recycled shopping equipment
The Araven ShopRoll recycled shopping basket first made its mark in 2011. Manufactured from polypropylene pellets supplied by waste recovery companies, it has already registered the one million units sold mark. However, the specific Oceanis line aims to go further: its ultimate goal is to draw attention to the pollution caused to our seas and oceans by plastic. A major problem that needs to be dealt with when considering that half the oxygen in the atmosphere is generated in the oceans, in addition to being responsible for absorbing 25% of CO₂. If the trend continues, it is estimated that there will be more plastic than fish, in terms of weight, in the water by the year 2050.
The fact that 49% of our oceans are contaminated with single-use plastics is reason enough to take a stand against the use of this material. But this is not the only reason: a further 27% is contaminated with discarded fishing equipment. And the reality cannot be hidden: the lack of controls and incentives means that fishing vessels are not concerned about recovering nets that get tangled up or lost, as this is regarded as a cost in relation to time and fuel. The result? The ghost fishing cycle we have already mentioned.
According to data published by Greenpeace, in some ocean areas, fishing lines alone account for up to 85% of the total amount of accumulated waste. Giving a second life to all this material is imperative and non-negotiable. This is why shopping carts made from recycled fishing nets are due to become a benchmark product in a very short period of time: recyclable, sustainable and eco-friendly, they are the perfect tool for enabling a brand to take a real stand against one of the most pressing issues in the world we inhabit.