Of all the plastic debris that pollutes the ocean, the 640,000 tons of discarded fishing nets and gear that end up there each year are considered the most dangerous. They’re more likely to harm marine life than all other forms of plastic pollution combined, trapping animals in their wake. Ironically, a fishing net is also the exact same tool that provides a living for fishermen and their families — some of the people who are most reliant on the health of our oceans to begin with.
Discarding every net or ridding the planet of their need isn’t as viable an option as repurposing them, giving them new life, and ultimately keep them out of the ocean. Bureo is one organization that comes up with ways to prevent as much plastic pollution as possible by doing just that. They’ve made surfboard fins, skateboards, and now in a new partnership with Costa, they’ve started taking those nets and are turning them into something simple and common: sunglasses.
“The way that our model works is we go into fisheries, we explain to them, ‘Hey, we know you have this problem managing waste. What we wanna do is help you manage that waste that’s at its end of life,” says Founder and CEO of Bureo, David Stover. Because the fishing nets can wear out, tear, or rip so easily, there’s actually a large need for programs like Untangle Our Oceans, where the end-of-life nets are untangled, cleaned, sent to a recycling facility, and finally turned into the plastic pallets that can be used for injection molding purposes.