Nofir has built an international, circular-economy network harvesting discarded nets and ropes from fisheries and aquaculture. This creates value while combating a longstanding threat to marine life and the environment.
Historically, fishing nets have either been incinerated; sent to landfill, causing problems for people and machinery; or thrown back into sea or disposed of “in nature”, continuing to trap and kill fish as ghost nets. For decades, this has threatened fish and marine mammals.
Fighting this problem comprises various challenges. One of these is manpower. Chosen for their strength or elasticity, materials used to make plastic nets and ropes must, in most cases, be dismantled and recycled separately before being reintroduced into new production.
Meanwhile, fishing fleets and fish farmers are often located in rural areas, with distance representing near-insuperable logistical challenges. One purse net can weigh as much as 50 metric tons, impossible to handle without necessary equipment and experience.
There is also the threat of an even bigger environmental problem, with competitors only collecting the lucrative fractions, leaving behind materials without resources for treatment.
Nofir has established a system of collection and logistics for waste equipment. Rather than picking them over for the most lucrative fractions, its system involves harvesting as large a fraction as possible from nets and ropes, ensuring that all materials that can be recycled, are.
Nofir’s system is generating an annual 7 000 metric tons of raw material for the recycling industry, using a skilled team and network spanning fisheries and aquaculture. With Nofir’s help, recycling centres such as Aquafil, in Slovenia, can turn these waste products into ECONYL® yarn, which can be used in clothing, textiles, carpets and many other applications. During the period 2008-2018, Nofir had collected more than 35 000 metric tons of netting, much of it recycled into high-end products.
Nofir’s system provides a clear channel for disposal of materials used in ropes and nets that have previously been landfilled, incinerated or discarded at sea. The system ensures that these materials are recycled into ECONYL®, which can be reused repeatedly, even indefinitely, without degradation. This reduces overall demand for virgin plastic, thereby reducing the use of petroleum resources and resultant carbon emissions.
According to the UN, between 600 000–800 000 metric tons of ghost fishing equipment enter the ocean each year and is the most harmful form of marine litter. Started as a national project in 2008, Nofir had collected material for recycling from five continents by the end of 2018. The company has been very well received by the recycling industry and is pursuing further sustainable expansion.
12. Responsible consumption and production
For each kg recycled through the Nofir system, 1.7 kg oil and 3.6 kg carbon dioxide equivalents are being saved, compared to new production.
14. Life below water
The Nofir system has prevented 23 500 metric tons of discarded equipment from going to landfills or ending up at sea, delivering a solution to a problem that has dogged the fishing industry for generations and promoting the sustainable use and conservation of marine resources.