Fish net gets new life as carpet squares

Sustainability and environmental engineering professional Robin Schiro is repurposing nets them into carpet squares made of 60 to 80 percent recyclable material. Courtesy photo

Sustainability and environmental engineering professional Robin Schiro is on a mission to keep retired gill nets and seine nets out of the landfill in Kodiak. She is repurposing them into carpet squares made of 60 to 80 percent recyclable material.

Schiro, who holds a master’s degree in sustainability leadership from Arizona State University, was inspired by efforts of Nicole Baker, the University of Washington researcher who promotes repurposing commercial fish nets through her website, netyourproblem.com and attended one of Baker’s Net Hack Challenge workshops.

Now she is working with Interface, in Atlanta, Georgia, to recycle the gill nets and seine nets, which are made of nylon, a tough, lightweight, elastic synthetic polymer, into carpet squares.

Interface, the world’s largest manufacturer of modular carpet for commercial and residential applications, has been recognized in the carpeting industry for its recycling efforts.

The Kodiak Chamber of Commerce has already agreed to use the product to recarpet its building and the U.S. Coast Guard is considering the product initially for use in a commercial building at its base there.

Schiro told participants in a forum at ComFish Alaska 2019 in Kodiak on March 29 that the carpet squares could prove very economical, because they would keep tons of retired fish nets out of the local landfill, which charges $55 a ton to bury the nets. It would also, by her calculations, save the Coast Guard thousands of dollars because her carpet considerably more economical, takes less manpower to lay down and pull up, and it can be recycled again when it becomes worn out.

If the project takes off, and attracts more buyers in Kodiak, Schiro said she hopes to negotiate with Interface, which has a big plant in the Netherlands, to build a small one right in Kodiak, providing more local jobs while keeping all those fish nets out of the landfill.