fishnet blog2

27 February 2017

Exactly what are Fishy Filaments?

Written by Ian Falconer, Posted in Fish Net Blog

Your product, made from recycled fishing nets is unique and pioneering, is anyone else doing this?

What you will find is that adidas is working with an NGO called Parley on the west coast of the states and have done a demo with some used fishing nets. What they did was they collected some nets and they've done a demo run and with adidas they've produced some sneakers. Those sneakers have been sold at $7,000 a pair. It's not an economic model. It's a PR demo. I'm not doing demos. I'm trying to make a genuine business. It's embedded in the local community that takes waste from local sources and employs local people and then exports a finished product. 

You would like to raise five thousand in this crowdfunder. What will the funds go for?

Yes, five thousand pounds (Stg). The crowd fund is to get my production gear up to a standard that can start to produce it at a quality that is suitable. I've had 3 or 4 people already come to me and say, look, we want your material as soon as you can provide it. They're in things like 3D printing of custom glasses. Another one is high-value fishing gear. It's only to cover the feasibility, that's not to go fully commercial. It is to get to the point where I can stand up in front of the bank manager and say, here's the full business model with all the numbers, lend me or don't lend me or I can go to Grant agencies or whatever. And to be able to have that confidence to be able to stand up in front of people to show it is viable. The technical process is done, that's not the issue. It’s putting the numbers on the business that’s important. All I need is a little weight of money to push it in the right direction.

How competitive is your filament?

There are one or two recycled filament makers in Europe, but they’re not doing nylon at the moment. They’re doing PET, which are the transparent water bottles. And there’s a few people in the states as well looking at recycling a material called PLA which is polylactide made from either cornstarch or milk process. And they’re recycling the waste from 3D printing itself. So a few people out there starting to do recycled filaments, no one is doing fishing nets to filaments at the moment. 

How have the fisherman received when you have gone down to their docks for their nets?

Absolute apathy (laughs). They're completely involved in their fishing and that's completely right. Down here we have the Newland Harbor Master who manages all the waste nets, so I deal with them directly. I've also been talking to the net repairers, and they love the idea. Because it means I can go around and collect their waste, they don't have to do anything and it doesn't cost them a thing. It's a load off their back. While the skippers and crew might be, justifiably, focused on their own parts of the seafood business the shore-based portions of the supply chain have supported my idea wholeheartedly. As an ex-offshore oil rig worker (I worked as a geologist in the North Sea oilfields for a few years) I completely understand the need for that focus. Fishing for Litter, an NGO that helps crews land and dispose of caught litter of any kind including plastics, have been key in facilitating meetings and advocating the idea within local networks. The Newlyn Pier & Harbormaster’s Office has also been most helpful in allowing me to gather samples from the harbourside upon which to develop and test my process.

What does your community think of you?

Everyone that I've talked to about it absolutely loves the idea. I don't know if you know Cornwall it all but we're right out at the end at the far west of Britain. We're kind of isolated. Kind of a close-knit feel, very little churn of people. They like the idea of capturing the value locally and not having to export. Right now these nets get exported to Slovenia, the other side of Europe for recycling. That's fifteen hundred miles away. So the value of saving the fuel and traffic, these sorts of things. And the value of about 6,000 pounds (7,500 dollars) for each of these loads drains our local economy. 

About the Author

Ian Falconer

Ian Falconer

Ian Falconer is an inventor living and working in Cornwall, UK. He is a graduate of the Camborne School of Mines and Vice President of the Cornish Institute of Engineers. Over two decades working across the natural resources sector 'waste', its elimination, reduction or control has been a fundamental motivation.

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