This post was originally produced for Forbes.
“There is a tendency amongst environmentally minded people to view plastics as evil. But they have revolutionized our lives and are here to stay. What is most important is how we use them and how we reuse them – closing the loop rather than dumping them in the oceans to kill marine life,” says noted conservationist and scientist Dr. Nicholas Hill from the Zoological Society of London.
He points out that “Unlikely partnerships can sometimes be the most inspiring and innovative.” Apparently, he was thinking about the Zoo’s partnership with Interface TILE +4.07%, Inc., which claims to be the world’s largest modular carpet manufacturer. Together, they are working in partnership called “Net-Works” to eliminate the global marine hazard of discarded fishing nets.
“The nets, which would otherwise last for 600 years and are the world’s largest and cleanest source of post-consumer nylon, are regenerated into nylon yarn Interface uses to produce carpet tiles. The program is established in poor coastal Philippines villages where marine life and reefs are endangered and has helped 4,500 villagers earn supplemental income equal to 84,000 additional meals. The United Nations has conservatively estimated that 640,000 tons of fishing gear are left in the oceans each year,” a spokesperson explained.
On October 23, 2014 at 11:00 Am Eastern, Nigel Stansfield, Chief Innovations Officer of Interface, and Dr. Hill of the Zoological Society of London, will join me for a live discussion about the “unlikely partnership.” Tun in here then to watch the interview live.
More about the Zoological Society of London:
Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity whose mission is to promote and achieve the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats. The mission is realised through groundbreaking science, active conservation projects in more than 50 countries and two Zoos, ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. For more information visit www.zsl.org.
Dr. Hill’s bio:
Nick is a specialist in conservation for communities at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) in the Marine & Freshwater International team, and is responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of Net-Works. Having spent a few years studying marine ecology in a remote corner of northern Mozambique in extremely poor rural communities, Nick turned his attentions to understanding local livelihoods and evaluating the role of livelihood interventions in conservation. This work took Nick to the Philippines, where his PhD research focused on the interaction between fishing and seaweed farming within people’s livelihoods. Here, Nick witnessed first-hand the issues of marine debris as he picke his way through piles of discarded fishing nets on the beaches on a daily basis. These experiences together with Interface’s experiences in inclusive business provided the perfect platform from which to develop Net-Works.
Nick has an MSc in Environmental Technology and a PhD in Conservation Science from Imperial College London and ZSL. Nick has also worked for the Ministry of Fisheries in New Zealand and has published his research in several conservation and marine biology journals. He now works extensively in Philippines, Mozambique and Cameroon with a focus on developing innovative solutions to environmental issues that are sustainable and benefit local communities.
More about Interface, Inc.:
Interface is the world’s largest carpet tile manufacturer, and a leader in sustainability since 1994 when the company began to reimagine it’s petroleum-intensive business around the idea of minimizing its carbon footprint and rethinking it’s process and products. Twenty years later, the company is now pioneering what they call “restorative business” – the idea that the company should leave the world better with every square yard of carpet it sells. Net-Works, a new model for inclusive business, is a program Interface and the Zoological Society of London are partnered on to bring marginalized people into the company’s supply chain.
Nigel Stansfield is Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer for Interface Inc., a worldwide leader in the design and production of carpet tiles that combine beauty and sustainability with functionality and environmental credentials to help customers bring their design vision to life.
With over 25 years’ experience as a textile technologist, Nigel is an expert in yarn, carpet and fabric manufacture.
In 2001 Nigel moved into research and development, inspired by Mission Zero, Interface’s goal for a zero environmental footprint by 2020, and a need for more sustainable product development. He has been instrumental in developing Net-Works, a unique global business and conservation partnership between Interface and the conservation charity the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). Net-Works aims to tackle the growing global environmental problem of discarded fishing nets whilst providing socio-economic benefits in some of the world’s poorest coastal communities and improving Interface’s business.