How discarded fishing nets from Tamil Nadu become surfboards

Photo Credit to Ben Thouard  

The oceans have long turned into the conservationist’s new playground. From building conversations around ocean pollution to setting up channels to fetch the waste, the man-made menace floating off-shores is feeding new enterprises tackling ocean waste. The latest entrant in this space is Netherlands-based life and material sciences specialist, DSM, that uses abandoned fishing nets to craft surfboard components.

A plastic battle

Announced in late 2018, the project kickstarted as a joint venture between DSM and Thailand-based water sports gear company, Starboard. “We are [constantly working] towards finding out how much plastic we are using in our company,” says Tasmin Chilcott, Eco Project Coordinator at Starboard, adding that internal projects to retrieve plastic waste from the oceans in Thailand, among others, are also in place.

Though single-use and virgin plastic made their exit from the production of their boards last year, Chilcott felt the presence of ghost fishing nets in the oceans needed attention, too. “I was aware that these nets can be used to create fins. We wanted to give them a second lease of life,” she says.

Stepping in to fill this gap was DSM’s Akulon RePurposed — a fully recyclable resin that contains recycled polyamide, reinforced with fiberglass. DSM upcycles close to 250 tonnes of fishing nets every month, which it sources through a network of mobilised fishermen along India’s coastline, including Kuthenkuly in Tamil Nadu. “While there are already more than 300 people from local communities engaged in the process, we continue to explore new geographies,” says Anand Diwanji, Business Director, India, DSM Engineering Plastics.

Processing the waste

Once the nets are collected, they go through a barrage of processes (inspection, decontamination, cutting, shredding, washing and drying) before they are converted into chips (moulded into the required components). “It involves extra precautions and quality checks,” says Diwanji, adding that they are also planning to collaborate with automotive and furnishing companies.

Once the process is complete, the recycled resin is then shipped to Starboard’s Thailand facility where it is processed into various structural components including fins, fin boxes and stand-up paddleboards.

€750 onwards on sup.star-board.com

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 11:45:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/how-discarded-fishing-nets-from-tamil-nadu-become-surfboards/article30049811.ece

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