10/4/2018 | 2 MINUTE READ

Collaboration Transforms Nylon-Based Fishing Net Waste into High-End Surfboard Components

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DSM and watersports company Starboard partner in the collection and upcycling of discarded fishing nets.

A shared passion for a cleaner environment and a ‘circular economy’ has resulted in a collaboration between The Netherlands’ Royal DSM (DSM Engineering Plastics North America headquarters in Troy, Mich.) and Hong Kong-based Starboard Ltd., a global leading water sports manufacturer offering paddle, surf, windsurf and kiteboards. This collaborative effort, which includes the collection and upcycling of discarded nylon-based fishing nets to create a material for consumer goods such as surfboard components, supports litter-free beaches, a healthier marine environment and creates a positive social impact for local communities in India.

The two came together when the surfboard company selected DSM’s Akulon RePurposed, whereby the resin used is fully recycled from discarded nylon-based fishing nets and is known for its sustainability profile as much as its performance. Gathered from the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea, the discarded fishing nets are given a new lease of life as fins, fin boxes, SUP pumps, and other structural parts in surfboards. All the products made using Akulon RePurposed are branded by Starboard as NetPositive.

United Nations (UN) data estimate that over 8 million tonnes (16 billion lb) of plastic ends up in the oceans, wreaking havoc on marine wildlife and fisheries and costing at least $8 billion in damage to marine ecosystems. Discarded plastic fishing nets are a part of the problem. According to a report jointly produced by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN Environment Program (UNEP), fishing nets abandoned at sea remain in the marine ecosystem for hundreds of years. Known as ghost fishing nets, experts have estimated that there are roughly 640,000 tonnes (1.28 billion lb) of these nets currently in our ocean, accounting for nearly 10% of all plastic waste in the sea.

Said Matt Gray, Commercial Director Asia Pacific, DSM Engineering Plastics, “At DSM, our strategy includes developing innovative solutions and collaborations that contribute to a circular economy and aligns with the UN Sustainable Development Goals addressing climate change, resource scarcity, waste and pollution. We look beyond society’s current model of take-make-dispose and instead try to mimic nature and the circle of life. For example, in our collaboration with Starboard we use waste to make a long-lasting, high-value material that can again be recovered at the end of its life cycle to become something new…..We hope the success we have been able to achieve with Starboard encourages other companies to step forward with new projects designed to promote a more circular economy.”

Added Svein Rasmussen, Founder and CEO, Starboard. “One of the most satisfying parts of our work is the challenge of redesigning our products to lower their environmental impact and achieve higher performance…Through this collaboration with DSM, we showcase how quick and easy it can be to change the way we build better boards for the planet. We want to continuously push boundaries for more eco-innovations for our boards.”


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