From fishing nets to clothes: new initiatives to clean the seas
A few associations, among which Healthy Seas and Aquafil, have developed a method for recuperating fishing nets left scattered in the sea and re-using them in a productive way, so as to reduce the amount of litter smothering the oceans.

Sea waters are not what they used to be. Smells and colours have changed due to the amount of garbage thrown and lost in the oceans, polluting our environment and damaging the “health” of the seas and consequently of the animals living in them and ultimately our own. In order to reverse the trend and avoid things getting worse, quite a few associations have been created whose objective is to improve environmental conditions cleaning our planet.

One of these is the non-profit organization Healthy Seas, which has been active for five years. For its latest project, carried out on 6th to 8th October last, it collaborated with various foundations (Aquafil, Aeolian Islands Preservation Fund, Blue Marine Foundation and Ghost Fishing Foundation) in cleaning the waters of the Aeolian Islands, in Sicily. The idea is to recuperate as many as possible of the fishing nets left abandoned on the sea beds as they are dangerous for animals (which can become trapped in them), represent about 10% of the sea pollution and are also partly recyclable, since nylon can be used to produce textiles.
This last passage is the key element of the initiative: re-using fishing nets in an effective and productive way. Scientists have in fact found out that nylon can be salvaged from them and used in the production of different types of fabrics.

The association Aquafil will take care of this aspect. Founded in 1965, it is one of the main producers of synthetic fibres both in Italy and in the world. In a video-interview published on the YouTube channel Econyl, Aquafil’s director Giulio Bonazzi says that the process is divided in stages in which the material is deconstructed and re-combined in order to isolate its different components, nylon (in this case defined as “Econyl”) being one of them. Bonazzi also explains that the main objective is to avoid generating any more waste which could somehow make its way back to the sea.
Some fashion houses like Gucci and Adidas have already confirmed their support for the initiative committing to buying Econyl to use in the production of new fabrics and products. It is essential that this process doesn’t lead to the creation of new material harmful to the environment, otherwise the project would lose its effectiveness.

Dozens of tons of fishing nets have been salvaged in the last few months, but this is not enough. Scientists want to expand the project throughout the world so as to start cleaning the seas, avoid waste and go back to having clear waters.