(Feature) The “net effect”

June 11, 2015 6:00 am 

By Ma. Cristina C. Arayata

MANILA, June 10 (PNA) — “May pera sa basura” (There is cash from trash) may sound familiar to most of us.

I also know that Filipino fashion designer Rajo Laurel was able to turn rugs into ‘sosyal’ bags and purses. But I never thought that a trash can be ‘sosyal’, too.

Yes, that’s what carpet tile manufacturer, Interface, Inc. does. Through a collaboration with Net-Works (a social enterprise empowering fishing communities) and the international conservation charity, Zoological Society London (ZSL), Interface makes carpets out of discarded nets.

Everyone will agree that there’s a lot of used/discarded nets in the ocean. The United Nations Programme (UNEP) even cited that discarded fishing gear, including nets, makes up about 10 percent of marine wastes globally.

In an interview with the Philippines News Agency (PNA), Rob Coombs, Interface Asia-Pacific president, revealed that the Philippines is the first place where they found a “sufficient amount of problem and source of nets”.

Dr. Nick Hill, co-founder of the Net-Works program, ZSL, shared with PNA he had been in the Philippines several times before, and he saw the nets making the seas dirty. As he saw the problem, he also acknowledged that Filipinos are innovative and very collaborative.

Interface and Net-Works engaged communities to collect and sell discarded nets, which will then be brought to Slovenia for recycling. These wastes/discarded nets will be recycled, will be turned into nylon yarns used in making carpet tiles good for export. These carpets are called the “net effect” according to Coombs.

Net collection hubs piloted in Danjon Bank and Bantayan Islands. It was introduced recently in Northern Iloilo. At present, Net-Works only do this in the Philippines. But Coombs said they plan to expand it to Cameroon in Africa, and take it to many countries.

Thus, fisherfolks earn from selling discarded nets. The program helps in cleaning and preserving the environment. Talk about hitting two birds with one stone.

Concepcion Iloilo Mayor Milliard Villanueva told PNA they have collected more than 500 kilos of nets since April. “It’s a big help in livelihood,” he cited, and added that fishermen sell nets in collection areas for a price.

Like many endeavors, Net-Works also face many challenges in making this program possible. Among these include exporting wastes to Europe for recycling.

Despite the challenges, Interface realized that net wastes is not just a problem in the Philippines, but globally. “We have to find the community which will make it (program) sustainable. We need to raise awareness,” Coombs said in a press conference organized by British Embassy Manila on Wednesday.

He then noted that expansion would certainly require dedication and collaboration. (PNA)

CTB/MCCA/EDS

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