Project: Net·Worth – the final handle…

The final handle had some really interesting qualities. When the net was processed and injection moulded, the green fluctuated in colour – darkening down to a more muted shade that also had even darker veins running through the material. Even though it was solid, the material had movement…

It also looked a lot like jade, which was a pretty interesting transformation for what is essentially waste fishing net!

We are now in the process of developing this handle for the retail market, so if you are interested in finding out more about the EL handle, do get in touch!

Project: Net·Worth – the EL handle…


The handle needed to be sized to suit a cabinet and be able to be injection moulded by the machine itself, ie, not exceeding the maximum material volume in the tube.

After measuring existing cabinet handles it was decided that the utilitarian based design would be the following dimensions: (100 x 35 x 15mm) with the mould being created from milled aluminium. (the quickest way to create a mould locally, although certainly not the cheapest method of mould creation)

This calculated to a maximum 31.5 cubic cm per handle – well within our maximum of 84 cubic cm per ‘pull’ of material. It was also calculated that this would require around 37g of raw material to be created… so we got testing…


Project: Net·Worth – what should we mould…

But what to mould…?

For the first stages of the new product development we began looking back at the Serious Game results:

  • What would most benefit the town – and residents of Newhaven?
  • What could increase the employment rate in the town?
  • How could the (currently disparate) industries of the fishers and business be linked?
  • How could the fishers be supported by local industry?
  • What could be created that fits within a circular economy framework (ie, not destined straight to landfill…?)

From this, we decided to create something that was:

  • Easy and simple to mould, and therefore could be created quickly
  • Be a product that could bridge the gap between the fishers and consumers
  • Be something that could have a long life of use
  • Be made from a single material – i.e. the net alone, so could be incorporated back into a material stream at end-of-life

Product development – looking back at the Net-Hack…

The Net Hack had provided some very interesting angles for possible new products, however, it was one of the briefs that had not been chosen on the main hack day that we thought would best fit the direction of the project. This brief was set by MCB Seafoods and asked the designers to create an item that could be used by the fishers themselves – perhaps on the boats.

Designs for fishing related items were created in SolidWorks, such as cod spinners and escape hatches for retrofitting onto lobster pots.


However, it was decided that whilst creating an item that could be used in this manner would be good for the fishers themselves, to increase the connection between the fishers and the public, creating an item that could be also used by a wider consumer base as well would be an interesting angle. The product needed to be something that crossed both markets of use, yet still be simple to create as this was the first test piece.

After much sketching, it was decided that a simple cabinet handle could be created to suit both markets – simple and hardwearing for use on the boats, but also decorative in a utilitarian nature for the interiors market.

Project: Net·Worth – testing the materials…

Material processing…

The first main discovery was the fact whilst the top hopper is perfect for pelleted plastic, the shape and lightweight nature of the net meant that it did not easily ‘flow’ into the heating tube, but had to be pushed down the feed hole instead. This meant that wooden sticks had to be fashioned to get the net into the tubing safely (the tube has multiple heating collars that can be adjusted to the correct melting point of the plastic being used and therefore gets very hot)

The method was initially tested to get a ‘raw’ material rather than a finished product. As the shredder had been removed from the project, the net was trimmed by hand into small sections and fed into the tube, which was heated to different sets of temperatures to experiment with the process. Net material was fed from the top, heated for approximately 3 minutes and squeezed through the tube with the handle to form a long plastic sausage, which was allowed to cool. It was calculated that the single pull maximum volume capacity of the tube was 84 cubic cm, which would give a good level of scope for different products to be created.


The trawl net material itself is an aqua green in colour, yet when processed, the ‘sausage’ darkens the material down, with some even darker green ripples. Whilst no longer a solid colour, the aesthetic of the new ‘raw’ material is distinct and interesting. However, this would need to be considered for the final product, and indeed, if other colours of net were used.

Through the materials that were picked up, there was a small volume of orange PP trawl net, which was also processed to raw plastic sausages, however, this orange darkened significantly and lost its vibrancy…



Project: Net·Worth – the Precious Plastic Machines…

The final stages of the project were concentrated around the physical transformations of the material using the Precious Plastic open source plans – how can we use the existing machines to reprocess old fishing nets and create new products?

The Precious Plastic Machines…

Started in 2013, the Precious Plastics project was started by Dave Hakkens as a way of allowing individuals to set up their own, small scale remanufacturing hubs using waste plastic local to them. The open source plans for the machinery were designed to allow them to be built by those with relatively basic skills, and with raw materials / parts that were readily available, or could be swapped for other parts locally. This open source method has meant that the project has crossed the globe and brought plastic remanufacturing – and therefore value from waste plastic – to new communities.

It was decided that these plans would be the perfect basis for the latter stages of Project Net:Worth as we looked to create new ‘products’ from the waste trawl net.

Existing machines – issues and amendments…

The Precious Plastic project is formed of four main machines:

  • Plastic shredder
  • Injection moulder
  • Extruder
  • Compression Oven

Due to the nature of the project, the injection moulder and the shredder were chosen for initial development – to process the net into more manageable pieces and to mould them into new products.

However, on examining the plans of the shredder more closely, the rotational cutting system of the machine was not suitable for the net. The material would tangle and bind rather than shredding into smaller pieces for use in the next stages instead. A different type of shredding would be necessary for the material – a rotational disc-based shredder rather than an interlocking toothed system. Investigations were made as to the possible development time and cost, but it was soon discovered that this would be far more complex and costly than the time and budget allowed in the project. Therefore it was decided to concentrate the project efforts (and budget) on the injection moulder instead.

New machine – the Project Net·Worth injection moulder…

The initial machine from the Precious Plastics project was designed to take shredded / pelleted materials which were relatively rigid, rather than the flexible sections of net. However, we decided to build the machine from the plans, then make amendments to the designs subject to our discoveries.

The injection moulder was created locally by Plunge Creations, with only small adjustments required to the main tubing size to allow it to be created with ‘stock’ materials. The moulder was tested using net, and then delivered to the CPD studio for further testing…

Ghost Gear investigations – weeks sixteen and seventeen – the Net Hack…

Following on from the Serious Game in December in WK 12, we invited back the attendees, plus some designers to undertake a Net Hack Challenge, similar to the one we attended in WK7 with Prof. Martin Charter at the Centre for Sustainable Design. In this event, designers were asked to brainstorm ideas around the issues of waste fishing gear generally – responding to a set of briefs set by industry, ranging from how to utilise recovered lobster pots to how to create something for the home from net.

Each of these briefs resulted in interesting ideas, however, this project is specifically looking at the opportunities for nets (and specifically green PP net) to be reprocessed into a raw material and used for injection moulding. Therefore, we decided to amend the briefs we gave as options to the design teams to take this into account – but still engaging with the wider ghost gear / marine litter / marine conservation community.

New briefs were sourced from key players in the industry:

  • Surfers Against Sewage – Hugo Tagholm (CEO): Surfers Against Sewage is a national marine conservation and campaigning charity that inspires, unites and empowers communities to take action to protect oceans, beaches, waves and wildlife. (

SAS were keen to look at opportunities for how reused net material could be turned into a new product that could be used on a beach clean to spread awareness of marine plastic, or a product that could be a new fund-raising addition to their online shop.

  • MCB Seafoods – Harry Owen (fisheries consultant): MCB Seafoods was established in 2003 by two brothers with a passion for fresh, quality, sustainable seafood from their base in Newhaven. Utilising their 60+ years of combined experience the business has flourished, including becoming part of the Sustainable Seafood Coalition in 2015.

Sustainability is at the core of their approach to business and is why they are committed to sourcing all of our seafood responsibly. MCB joined the SSC to work with others from the industry to create a benchmark for environmental claims and help drive improvement in the fisheries that do not meet strict sustainability standards.

MCB were keen to explore ideas that could be used by the fishing industry itself – new products made from nets that go back to fishers.

  • Bureo – Ben Kneppers (Co-Founder): Bureo make skateboards (and other items, such as the new Jenga Ocean toy) from recycled fishing nets. Their recycling program in Chile, ‘Net Positiva’, provides fishing net collection points to keep plastic fishing nets out of our oceans. Preventing harmful materials from entering the ocean, their programs protect wildlife and supporting local fishing communities through financial incentives. Ben is also the working group chair for Replicating Solutions for the Global Ghost Gear Initiative. (

Bureo were keen to explore ideas that were consumer focussed, but that were also educational in some capacity (like their Jenga Ocean set)

These briefs joined another three that were in the original Net Hack Challenge run by Prof. Charter, including one set by the CPD studio:

  • World Animal Protection – Christina Dixon (Oceans Campaign Manager): Producers and distributors of seafood have a huge role to play in tackling the problem of ‘ghost gear’, the term given to lost and abandoned fishing equipment. WAP believe that our oceans and the life within them should be protected. The ghost gear problem is getting worse. As a result, marine animals are suffering. WAP are also the secretariat for the Global Ghost Gear Initiative.

WAP were keen for the design teams to explore reuse opportunities for the small fragments of net found on beaches in their first brief and in their second brief, they challenged the teams to design a product which uses recycled or re-purposed fishing nets and/or ropes that could be used by beach goers to tell a story about the oceans. The product should be produced and sold in coastal businesses to generate revenue.

  • Claire Potter Design – Claire Potter (director): the CPD studio have been researching marine plastic, and especially the opportunities for what the recovered material could be turned into for 8 years. As a circular economy design studio the issues with waste generation and therefor regenerative design is key. CPD is a member of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative and Project Leaders for this project – Project Net·Worth.

As regular exhibitors at the Clerkenwell Design Week – one of the biggest design festivals in the UK, the studio were keen to see solutions to the brief that were functional, beautiful and engaging to the public – true conversation starters.

Each brief however, was specifically tailored to allow an ‘injection moulded’ product to result from the process, rather than a ‘crafted / reuse’ product.

After an introduction to Project Net·Worth and some informal networking, the briefs were introduced in person and via video linkup with those setting the briefs. Attendees were split into groups and each team chose a brief to work from. One brief was not chosen by any of the teams – the one set by MCB Seafoods which asked for items to be created that could be used by fishers. When asked, the teams thought that they did not know enough about the fishing industry to design something of use. If a fisher had been in attendance, this could have been addressed. 


Some teams decided to join up the briefs to create a product that fulfilled more that one set of parameters also – guided through the design process by Prof. Charter, with Claire Potter and Jake Arney assisting. Many of the attendees had not worked with – or even seen commercial fishing net up close, so allowing them access to the material early in the process was key.


At the Net Hack Challenge in November, we realised that there were lots of questions which could have been answered had the design teams had access to the materials.

Giving the teams time to play with the material was also key – so a good chunk of time was set into the design process to allow this collaborative play in initial response to the brief.


Explorations were varied, but the main briefs that were explored by the designers were:

  • Surfers Against Sewage brief – a fundraising item that could be sold in the online shop.
  • Bureo – an educational item made from fishing nets.
  • WAP – an item that can use small fragments of net.


Prompts were given to the design teams in the form of words, pictures and symbols, to push the creativity of the designers to think about what could be possible with the material.

By the end of the session, there were three key solutions to the briefs that had been created by the teams, all of which were prototyped very roughly with the sample nets that we had supplied to the teams and ‘pitched’ to the rest of the attendees:

A pair of sunglasses – made from plastic recovered from Brighton beach and that could be sold as a fundraising product as well as an educational product.

  • Hardwearing signage for beach fronts – net, by it’s very nature is incredibly hardwearing and is able to withstand extremes of temperature and the marine environment. This example was ‘wrapped’ with net, however, letters, numbers and symbols could easily be injection moulded and be used by ocean facing locations.


  • A net exploration ‘play’ area to educate children about end-of-life nets, with injection moulded ‘fish’ that could be recovered and untangled from the nets.

Whilst each of these designs were concepts – each item could be made from injection moulded items – and would add value to the raw material of the net.

Ghost Gear investigations – weeks thirteen to fifteen…

As we headed to the end of the Define stage, it was clear that we had to go through an identification of key ‘ghost gear types’ types – especially the collections of pieces that were gathered up on beach cleans by members of the public, which varied in quality and quantity.

At the studio after collection, each material had undergone a manual cleaning process to remove biological contaminants (such as seaweed etc) and wash residue and sediments from the nets. All material was soaked in warm, soapy water (using a marine friendly soap by Ecover), left for half an hour, then rinsed in clean water and left to air dry thoroughly.

This method was simple, yet we believed would be sufficient for the needs of this project, which was to determine the possibility of recycling nets as a concept. There are however, further issues that would need to be considered – especially with nets that are collected from the sea / beaches and by volunteers / ‘collectors’:

  • POP (persistent organic pollutants) – these can adhere to nets over time, and as nets can be ‘lost’ for significant amounts of time at sea, the possibility for contamination is quite high. This would need to be considered if a scaled version of the project was created – especially if the end product was to come in continued contact with skin. (NB – it was for this very reason that we decided early in the project to NOT create any product concepts that would come into contact with food / the mouth for example)
  • Time – washing and sorting small sections of nets and net fragments is time consuming.
  • Wastage can be high – especially if there is a high level of organic contaminants that has not been removed by the ‘collector’.

With this in mind, the large quantities of net that can be obtained at end-of-life directly from fishers are a better option:

  • Contamination – could be lower (both of POP and certainly for visible organic matter such as seaweed)
  • Time – washing would still be required, but sorting would not need to take place as the nets would be of one material sort.
  • Wastage percentage would be lessened – especially if net was collected regularly from portside rather than letting it be stored in the open air.

However, using nets and fragments that have been collected by members of the public also has advantages:

  • Making use of material that would otherwise be landfilled / incinerated after beach cleans.
  • Engaging public in the issues with ‘ghost gear’ generally.
  • Enabling products to be ‘tagged’ as being made from material collected on a certain date / location, which adds to their story and possibly desirability.

Quantifying the material – beach cleans…

We had split each of the collected and cleaned materials from beach cleans into seven different types:

  • Type 1 – monofilament (nylon)
  • Type 2 – Green trawl net (polypropylene)
  • Type 3 – Orange trawl net / baling rope (polyethylene)
  • Type 4 – Black baling rope (polyethylene)
  • Type 5 – mixed rope fragments (mixed materials, some with internal cores of polystyrene for floating rope, or lead beading for sinking rope)
  • Type 6 – various (unidentified mixed materials)
  • Type 7 – miscellaneous fishing gear materials / items (this included floats, rope wheels and parts of crab/lobster pots)

Each location had a different build-up of material and slightly differing environmental conditions, but a pattern of the most frequently found material emerged:











We also had material which was picked up on our beach cleans by members of the public that we needed to quantify… 

It is worth noting that some areas had large collections of one material, such as rope, which skewed the results slightly, but overall, there was a similar pattern to the materials found.

  • Nylon (Type 1) was relatively low in quantity
  • Rope and mixed materials were quite common
  • Green PP trawl net (Type 2) was the next most commonly found material. However, the USABLE material discovered across all sectors was only 5152g, with the total UNUSABLE net totalling 1522g – nearly around a third.

    This material can be compared against the quantities available directly from the fishers themselves at end-of-life, which, after speaking to local representatives of the fleet would be in the region of 150,000g (150kg) per trawl net (based approximately on a 10 fathom Green PP braided net which forms our Type 2 material). As already discussed, this net would end-of-life, so would have far less contaminants, be pure, and would also help remove the net that is problematic for the fishers themselves.

    If we could then monetise this material to create a product, the ‘raw material’ of the net could be purchased from the fishers, even for a nominal fee rather than them having to pay for it to be sent to landfill / incineration (at the current rate of £88.95 per tonne from April 1 2018).

    Material choice for Project Net·Worth…

    As far as raw material values go, nylon (and nylon 6 in particular) has the highest resale value – and is the material that Plastix and other industrial recyclers desire the most. The mixed materials found in the UK and raw material values are one of the reasons why the recycling scheme from the South Coast to Denmark with Plastix was not economically viable and suffered a loss per trip (as described in WK 8).  However, if the most commonly found material (Green PP trawl netting) could be utilised locally – collected, recycled and reprocessed, this would allow for the more valuable nylon to be stored for less regular pickups by Plastix or similar whilst also creating a more regular income for the fishers.

    It was decided that Project Net·Worth would progress with the green PP trawl netting (example below) as the primary feedstock material for reprocessing investigations



Ghost Gear investigations – weeks eleven and twelve – the Serious Game…

WK 11-12Serious Game Event, Waste House, Brighton: with a variety of stakeholders, this event was to ‘play’ out different situations related to the port area of Newhaven (sector 7 on our map) and the potential for waste net reuse locally. The Serious Game format fields ‘players’ of stakeholders who respond to situations of time, abstract stimulus and each other to formulate plans and strategies around the set theme.

Our theme was the issues, and potential local reuse of end-of-life nets in the Newhaven area. Our attendee list was varied, with people from sectors relating directly to the ‘players’ and some who amended their own skill sets into those required for the ‘players’.

Each attendee was given a lanyard with the outline for the morning, plus a pre-selected ‘player group’ based on their skillset, from Port Authority, Local Authority, Fisher, Business and lastly, one person who was named as ‘Voice of the People’. Cat Fletcher was selected in this role due to her living in Newhaven and having a very good understanding of the complexities of the area.

The first scenario to be played was a ‘business as usual’ scenario, but with an added volatile market. Each group of players, taking the issues of the waste nets and their own positions, strategized how they would spend their imaginary funds over periods of +5, +10 and +20 years – 2022, 2027, 2037.

It was very interesting to see how each party strategized their funds and direction based on their own interests – and also how they responded to one another. The business groups were very keen to collaborate, but the Port Authority was much warier of outside influences, preferring to work alone. The fishers were more concerned with actually being able to make a living rather than necessarily their waste nets, but the ‘voice of the people’ gave excellent (and very truthful) feedback which reiterated some of our earlier research. The fishers were seen sympathetically by the local people, who felt that they always got a ‘raw deal’ and needed support. Trust was another word that was continually used in relation to the fishers, who most parties saw as being hard-working and diligent, whereas there was little trust for the Port Authority and the Local Authority throughout.

Whilst this was in game play, it strengthened the thoughts that we had progressed earlier with the need to connect the fishers with the public. This localised economy link would add value to any product that would be created, and of course, support the fishers who are known to be struggling.

The game play, which took two scenarios over three time periods also created some very valuable insights, for example…

(from scenario 1 – business as usual: +10 years)

PORT AUTH: we would like to develop international net recycling centre, local businesses to innovate within our spaces as we need to expand.

LOCAL AUTH: we recognise the advantages with working collaboratively and we would like to facilitate work between fishers and business, as the People trust the Fishers. We would like to champion a new Clean / Green / Marine business for Newhaven, but we would like the PA to step up with funds to develop.

FISHERS: we have increased competition, so we are stepping up with new tech and investing in our own boats.

BUSINESS: we are creating a marine based social enterprise responding to community and see Fishers as the entry point to collaboration, so would like to link Port / Fishers / Business and People.

(from scenario 2 – circular economy is now a standard way of working: +10 years)

PORT AUTH: we would like to turn the port into a zero carbon venture. We have been listening to the people and their interest in the beach and local business and how they want more ‘business’ than ‘industry’. We would like to incentivise Fishers – and have included a levy reduction to all those who bring in nets for recycling (their own or others that have been recovered) All levys to Port will link in to match funded fund and a new sharing economy hub.

FISHERS: we are more comfortable with collaboration now, and have sustainable fishing with variable mesh sizes. We are also working with divers to recover nets and are glad that PA are willing to collaborate on initiatives to support us.

BUSINESS: we would like to develop more tech to make the nets locally and support more sustainable fishing methods. Our new net leasing system ensures that nets can be repaired locally and reused, linking with U of B apprentices. If leasing is factored in from the start of the design process we are likely to have a better product overall, and the Fishers will benefit without the upfront cost. New innovation and true CE principles with new localised business models. B + PA to collaborate on international grants for growth.

LOCAL AUTH: progress needs to include the local people! We will work as more of a conduit between all parties and establishing a new role.

PEOPLE: really like the LA and new role, but we also NEED jobs and want to be heard. It is not just about employment. There is great innovation, so we are proud of our town, which is now seen as a beacon of positivity.

The end of the Serious Game culminated in an ‘Action Plan’ being considered for this project. With the roles that were played and the situations that were discussed, what would be the most pressing elements that any product made from local waste would need to consider?

  • What would most benefit the town – and residents of Newhaven?
  • What could increase the employment rate in the town?
  • How could the (currently disparate) industries of the fishers and business be linked?
  • How could the fishers be supported by local industry?
  • What could be created that fits within a circular economy framework (ie, not destined straight to landfill…?)

Ghost Gear investigations – week eight, nine and ten – the surveys…

WK8-10 – following on from the community beach cleans, we ran a survey of attendees to ascertain their perception of ghost gear. Did they know where it came from? Who was responsible? Who should be responsible for the clean-up? And critically for this project, would they be interested in a product made from ghost gear material, and what could be their limits to what they would buy? As well as running the survey online, we collated responses from face-to-face interviews. (online excerpt below)

Reponses also included:

‘I wouldn’t choose anything (as a new product) if the quality was sub-par regardless what it was made out of. If it didn’t last it would just end up in landfill anyway.’

‘Fishermen (are responsible). I’m not sure who else could be…? Unless we turn it round and say that it’s consumers who a) aren’t vegan or b) aren’t discerning about buying line-caught fish from responsible fishermen.’

Christmas wreaths from old stuff – we took the Emmaus UK Second Hand Santa challenge!

We have a few favourite places in Brighton and Hove, but one of our favourites has to be Emmaus. Many a day has found us rummaging around in the various areas in their shops, finding materials for our projects and having a chat and a cuppa with the wonderful companions who call Emmaus Brighton and Hove their home. So, we were delighted when we were invited to take part in the nationwide Emmaus UK ‘Second Hand Santa’ challenge – representing the Brighton and Hove community.

Image result for emmaus brighton and hove

Armed with a budget of £30, we headed up to the main Brighton and Hove Emmaus in Portslade to find materials to create something for our challenge: a Christmas wreath.

As typical designers, we started with a couple of questions for shop manager, Andy. ‘What do you have a lot of? What can be a problem to sell…?’ We were taken out to the front of the store, where two large boxes of picture frames were sitting. Even at a bargain 50p each, there were masses – and more waiting to come out from the warehouse… we decided these were going to be our main material for our Christmas wreath. We gathered an armful and started looking the next bits…

Heading down into the sorting areas, we found a load of damaged metal items that were on their way to the recycling skip, including a wire fruit bowl. We liked it, so it went in the basket along with the frames.

But we needed some colour, some sparkle and a base for our wreath. A trip to the fabric area bagged us some faux shot silk in red and silver and some gold upholders fabric, and a rummage through the costume jewellery resulted in some brilliant silver bangles. But we still needed a wreath base…

Sometimes the best thing about designing is the abstract thinking. Chatting to the guys on the loading door about what we needed for the base made us describe our elusive object as ‘like an old bike wheel or something?’ Two minutes later, two old 26inch diameter wheels were fished out the skip. Blinking marvellous.

Once we’d got it all back to the studio, we started playing and constructing (ie, the fun bit!) The timber picture frames were de-glassed and with a bit of bashing, each one was split down into the four sides, with their metal pins removed with the help of some pliers. The spikes of the bike wheel were cut out with some bolt cutters and the rim was cleaned up.

We started laying the now random pieces of timber from the frames on the rim, tying them in place with strips of the material, gradually building up the construction inwards. The wreath soon took form. But no wreath is complete without a bow, so we took the rest of the gold fabric and fashioned a nice fat bow for the top. Wreath one – the Rustic One, was complete.

But we still had stuff left, including the busted fruit bowl, various bits of silver things and the silver bangles. After bending the arms of the fruit bowl down a bit, a modern ‘starburst’ started to form. We threaded some of the bangles over the arms, pinching them in place at various heights and closed off the centre with a sparkling snap close bracelet.

A couple of bits of wire secured a beautiful old swan handle to the centre bangle, and some long strips of the remaining silver fabric tied at the top and left to cascade behind the bowl completed Wreath two – the Modern One.

So – what do you get when you cross two excitable designers, a wonderful Emmaus community, a Second Hand Santa Challenge and £30? Two brilliant Christmas wreaths – one for inside and one for outside, made from bits of stuff that needed new homes.

And what would our advice be for creating your own Emmaus Christmas wreath for your own Emmaus Second Hand Santa challenge? Find a solid base (like our wheel and fruit bowl), find something that you can get multiples of (like our picture frames and bangles) and get busy with building up layers

A HUGE thank you to all the guys and girls at our brilliant Emmaus Brighton and Hove for helping us find stuff for our challenge. See what you can find in your local Emmaus!

*** Emmaus Brighton and Hove is open Monday to Saturday, 10 – 5 ***

Ghost Gear investigations – week seven – the Net Hack Challenge…

WK 7 – Net Hack Challenge visit – Centre for Sustainable Design, Surrey. As we were undertaking our own Net Hack as part of this project in January 2018, we visited Prof Martin Charter at the Centre for Sustainable Design when he ran a similar event in November 2017. This event sets challenges from different stakeholders to designers as briefs, with recovered nets being the material to be used as part of the solution. As a design studio, we set a brief to the designers to test how they may respond (an in turn, how to word the briefs for our own event) and watched the day event unfold. It was clear that the briefs we give to the designers need to allow for a good level of creativity to be employed (ie, not too prescriptive) and that they had access to seeing the net early on in the process (some were confused as to what they could feasibly do with the material…

Ghost Gear investigations… weeks five and six…

So far, our project – ‘Investigating how Ghost Gear and Marine Plastic can become Precious Plastic’ has been focused on the ghost gear that can be picked up from beach cleans themselves. This has resulted in quite a range in types of material being gathered along with a range of qualities of material too. There has also been a significant amount of bio-fouling on the gear with regards to seaweed entanglement, which means that the amount of time that it takes to ‘process’ each of the batches can be quite high (and sometimes for little useful material return). However, these more community based collections allow for public empowerment – and a potential for education on the areas of Ghost Gear and marine plastics themselves, which is always useful.

However, the last two weeks we have not only been processing and recording the materials we found, we have been looking at one of the industrial sectors on our map – Newhaven Port.

By speaking directly to the fishers themselves in Newhaven and Eastbourne too (not on our map, but an area where a very influential and well respected local fisher works), we were able to understand the scale and complexity of the material that is available directly at end-of-life rather than being recovered from the sea / beach.

Quantities were huge – with materials being available in tonnes rather than kilos as we had been working with on the material recovered from the beaches. These materials were also very varied – from different types of nets to traps and fish boxes too – but many were relatively ‘pure’ in material with little or low biofouling.

There is a distinct advantage from getting end-of-life material directly from fishers to create a critical mass for re-manufacture, therefore we are considering that this may be our main focus for the ‘waste food’ for the project, with beach clean material being added in, rather than forming the main material stream. Space was a key issue for the fishers as many of them had limited access to storage, so regular pickups of material were highlighted as being important.

We were also keen to understand how nets were / are currently recycled in this area, as some of the fishers had been working with an international partner to recycle their nets. Due to the distances that the nets have to be shipped, it is currently unfeasible financially to process the material, which gives strength to this projects investigations – would more localised re-manufacture of material that is ‘lower cost’ in recycling terms make more financial sense?

As we start to quantify the ghost gear materials into type and weights we will should be able to start to look closer into the finances and establish feasibility for each type…

WEEK FIVE and SIX summary…

  • end-of-life gear shows potentially a more economically feasible route for the ‘waste as food’ for the project
  • partnering with the fishers will be key to create trust and also to ensure purity of material for reuse.
  • adding in ‘beach clean’ materials could be used as an additive to create public connection.

Ghost Gear investigations… week four…

Week four has been a pretty big one in our Discover stage of our ghost gear investigation project – as it was also the Surfers Against Sewage Autumn Beach Clean Series week (and we are also volunteer Regional Reps), we employed a crowd collection tactic for our data collection.

Image result for sas autumn beach clean

With multiple beach cleans all occurring on the same weekend, with the same weather, we would be able to compare the data from each area very clearly… materials, quantities – and crowd knowledge of ghost gear itself.

So – we identified the three key SAS Beach cleans that were focussed in our areas:

  • SAS Autumn Beach Clean, Hove Lawns 28/10/17: our Sector 3, which attracted around 70 volunteers over a 2 hour beach clean
  • SAS Autumn Beach Clean, Rottingdean 29/10/17: our Sector 5, (volunteer numbers tbc)
  • SAS x Pier2Pier + Silent Disco Beach Clean 29/10/17: our Sector 4, which attracted around 110 volunteers over a 3 hour beach clean.

We created a poster that acted as an introduction to the project, and spoke to the volunteers at each Beach Clean – asking them to separate out the ghost gear that they found…

This was an experiment – many people we spoke to at the start of these beach cleans had never attended a beach clean before, so asking them to both identify, and separate lost, abandoned or discarded fishing gear was a trial. After a briefing talk from us, each pair were given a small collection bag and sent out on to the beach.

The benefits of this system soon became clear. The vast majority of the volunteers filled their collection bags with ghost gear, clearly identifying them to keep them separated from the rest of the litter they had picked up. Some did come back with questions, but even those who had never done a beach clean could identify ghost gear. As our project is ultimately looking at how ghost gear can be incorporated into a new material stream to make new products, creating an empathic connection between cleaning the beach – doing a good thing – and a new item, could be critical.

It also meant that we had around 100 bags of ghost gear pieces picked up in a VERY short period of time over three separate areas that we had marked for research.

Week five will be spent looking at two of our other key areas – Sector 1 – Shoreham Port, and Sector 7 – Newhaven Port, speaking to fishers themselves and investigating the issues with collecting end-of-life nets and gear, rather than collecting it on the beaches itself.

And we will be washing, categorising and photographing the VAST quantities of ghost gear that our marvellous volunteer army collected over the Surfers Against Sewage Autumn Beach Clean series weekend…

WEEK FOUR summary…

  • ‘ghost gear’ is a term that not many members of the public know.
  • however, anyone can be easily briefed on the issue – and pick up ghost gear correctly.
  • mobilising volunteer collectors was very effective for collecting large quantities of material over a short period of time.

Ghost Gear investigations… weeks two and three…

Weeks two and three on our Ghost Gear investigations have gone like an absolute flash. We have spent a huge amount of time cataloguing the HUGE amount of ghost gear that we have found so far in our field visits – which have been mostly concentrated on the more public beach areas of Brighton and Hove. These are also the beaches which are more frequently cleaned by the team at City Clean, but it is still eye opening the quantities that we have found.

There are some patterns forming though… the types of materials we are finding the most of are quite distinct. If we can determine a reprocessing system for these, we could be able to redirect a great deal of ghost gear from landfill / incineration into a new product material stream.

Watch this space…

(images by J. Arney – claire potter design)

MORE BIG NEWS! We won the PEA Awards Arts Category!!!

Sometimes you look back over a week and wonder how you will ever top it. They do not come around very often, but they are the glorious weeks where everything falls into place, all the gambles pay off and everyone seems to be giving you equivalent of the Paul Hollywood Bake Off Handshake of a job well done. Last week was one of these weeks. Not only were we officially announced as one of Kevin McCloud’s Green Heroes, we appeared on BBC Radio Sussex talking about our plastic reduction campaigns, Plastic Free Pledge and then, on Friday 13th October, we won the PEA Award (People Environment Achievement) for our marine litter re-design work and PFP campaign. We were pretty shocked.

PEA Award founder, Jarvis Smith

The night was fantastic – a Day of The Dead themed party in Cornhill Banking Hall, London, we were truly honoured to be amongst a room of brilliantly inspirational people working in all reaches of the environmental sector.

(L-R) Jake Arney + Claire Potter (claire potter design), Cat Fletcher (Freegle), Dr David Greenfield (SOENECS)

After an opening reception of Juniper Green Gin cocktails, a three course vegetarian meal followed – with the awards, hosted by the fabulous Oliver Heath… It is lucky that we were the first award to be announced, as we were very nervous, despite being convinced that we were not going to win!

We can barely remember getting up on stage to collect the award – a stunning skull decorated with reclaimed and recycled elements, enclosed under a clear dome by jeweller Katie Weiner, and the next hour of the ceremony passed like an absolute flash.

So many wonderful people came up to congratulate us on the award too, which was really humbling. We do what we do because we deeply feel that it is the right thing to do – and to be recognised for this is just incredible.

THANK YOU to all the judges who selected us as the winners, to the fantastic sponsors of the night, our fellow category nominees and all of the people in attendance – it was so brilliant to meet you all and hear your stories too. We hope our paths cross again one day…

(last image by claire potter – all others courtesy of PEA Awards)