A Project in India Is Turning Discarded Fishing Nets Into Surfboards to Reduce Ocean Plastic

sezer66/iStock via Getty Images
sezer66/iStock via Getty Images / sezer66/iStock via Getty Images

From the San Francisco International Airport to the entire country of Ethiopia, people are trying to save our dying planet. The latest innovative recycling effort comes from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where fishermen are working to give discarded fishing nets a new life as surfboards.

According to The Straits Times, the endeavor is a collaboration between DSM, a nutrition and sustainable living corporation, and Thailand-based water sports company Starboard. Uday Shetty, the operations director of DSM Engineering Plastics, explained to The Straits Times that after they remove the out-of-use nets from the water, they clean, granulate, and transport them to their facilities in Pune, India. There, the deconstructed nets will undergo a strict quality check before being manufactured into eco-friendly surfboards.

The nylon plastic nets, often called “ghost nets,” create a whole host of issues for people and ocean dwellers alike. In addition to getting caught in the nets, fish sometimes consume pieces of them; and since there’s always a bigger fish, the bits of plastic continue to work their way up the food chain. The nets also snag boat propellers, which can damage their engines. As mentioned in a DSM press release, experts estimate that there are around 640,000 tons of the nets in the ocean, which accounts for nearly 10 percent of all ocean plastic waste.

“We look beyond society’s current model of take-make-dispose and instead try to mimic nature and the circle of life,” Matt Gray, a commercial director for DSM Engineering Plastics, said in the press release. By transforming the nets into fins, fin boxes, SUP pumps, and other parts of surfboards, the nets can return to the ocean in a much more environmentally conscious way.

And the benefits of the project aren’t limited to the ocean—it also creates an employment opportunity for the surrounding villagers. As the press release states, “the collection, sorting, cleaning, and processing of discarded fishing nets creates sustainable livelihoods for several local communities in India.”

[h/t The Straits Times]