End of life fishing nets can be difficult and expensive to dispose of properly. Even when properly disposed of, most end up in landfill – at significant cost to both the owner and the environment. Unlike the nylon used for pelagic nets, demersal nets are difficult and expensive to recycle. The good news is that KIMO UK have been running a pilot project over the last few months that aims to demonstrate that all fishing nets can be collected and recycled. Net collection has been ongoing in Peterhead, Scrabster and Ullapool. So far, around 6 lorry loads of nets have been collected and sent to Plastix’s facility in Lemvig, Denmark where they are stripped, shredded washed, separated and re-extruded back into pellets which are then used to manufacture new products – perhaps even fishing nets.
The scheme is really simple to operate. The ports kindly provide the space for net collection and fishermen and net makers can deposit suitable nets there free of charge. Once a full load is assembled, the project arranges collection.
The cost of collection, transport and processing isn’t quite met by the value of the recycled material – there is still a value gap that must be met by the project. For the pilot phase this has been met by a grant from World Animal Protection.
With the pilot phase coming to a close, it is safe to say that we have learned an enormous amount over the last six months during which we encountered lots of problems with transport arrangements. We are hopeful that we now have a robust solution and can take up a grant offered from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund to continue into a full scale project. We will be preparing a report on how things have gone in the next few weeks.
The full scale project, if it goes ahead, aims to continue the principle of ‘free deposit’ and expand the scheme around Scotland. This is important to encourage the recovery of the maximum number of nets. We know there is a stockpile of nets that need to be disposed of and once that is cleared the project aims to establish the stable supply of nets to inform future decisions on how best to recycle and, at the very least, optimise the logistics leading to a sustainable route for recycling of this important resource.
‘Free at the point of deposit’ Net Recycling is a key action flowing from the Scottish Marine Litter Strategy and KIMO UK is pleased to be delivering on this. Watch this space.