Net-Works - Girl and nets

Net-Works is a collaboration between global carpet tile manufacturer Interface, Inc. and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). It redesigns global supply chains to create sustainable and scalable solutions that reduce marine plastic, increase fish stocks and improve the lives of marginalised coastal communities living in biodiversity hotspots of developing countries. We connect these communities to global brands via a fair and inclusive business model that delivers ‘less plastic, more fish’.

  • Operations in 40 communities in the Philippines and Cameroon, with expansion to Indonesia underway.
  • Successfully established a community based supply chain for discarded fishing nets – a major source of plastic pollution and a hazard to marine life – collecting and recycling 224 metric tonnes so far.
  • Now building out an ecological and inclusive seaweed supply chain for carrageenan (seaweed extract) in Southeast Asia directly linked to measures that replenish fish stocks and avert the risk of carrageenan becoming the ‘palm oil of the sea’.


Why we are there

On the current trajectory of plastic pollution and overfishing there will be one tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish in the ocean by 2025. The people most affected are those in marginalised rural communities within biodiversity hotspots of the developing world, especially in Southeast Asia which contributes >60% of the world’s marine debris, is the centre of marine biodiversity, contains 55% of the global population of artisanal reef fishers and suffers the highest level of fishing pressure.

Community-based Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) with No-Take Zones (NTZs) and mangrove rehabilitation areas are key tools for restoring coastal ecosystems and enhancing socio-ecological resilience. There are >1,500 MPAs in the Philippines (NTZs average 12ha) that are often too small to be effective due to high dependence of communities on fishing. They typically focus on coral reefs and do not capture critical seagrasses or mangroves, and are too dependent on donor funding cycles.

Key achievements and goals

Net-Works provides a simple, scalable and holistic model to deliver less plastic, more fish and improve the lives of marginalised coastal communities across Southeast Asia. The programme started by developing a prototype around discarded fishing nets that are recycled into nylon yarn and sold to Interface Inc. to make high design carpet tiles. We have been progressively building on this foundation. To date we have:

  • Collected >224 metric tonnes of nets (increasing daily) – enough to go around the world >5 times –which have been recycled into high quality nylon yarn and sold to Interface, Inc. to make high design carpet tiles.
  • Conducted successful scientific trials of ecological seaweed farming in the Philippines.
  • Prototyped the first ‘bigger’ community-based MPA needed to replenish fish stocks, covering 627ha, with 202ha in a NTZ (up from the average12ha) in the Philippines. We are currently finalising ordinances for a further three communities with NTZs over 200ha in size. Built the best-practice standards and tools for these ‘bigger’ MPAs to also be ‘better’ MPAs that include seagrasses, mangrove rehabilitation and improved governance and enforcement.
  • Given 2,200 families access to finance through our community banks, who are now advocates. >1,600 members have voluntarily started making small weekly contributions to an ‘environment pouch’, which is used to support conservation activities. Last month one community, ranked by national measures as one of the poorest in the country, contributed ~$500 to upgrade their MPA guardhouse.
  • Improved the marine environment for 64,000 people.

Project information

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People involved

Dr. Nicholas Hill is the Senior Technical Specialist

Amado P. Blanco is the Net-Works Regional Manager- Southeast Asia

Surshti Patel is the Technical Specialist

Gildas Andriamala is the Social Marketing Technical Specialist

Ana Pinto is the Marine and Freshwater Projects Co-ordinator


Partners and sponsors

  • Interface, Inc.
  • Aquafil
  • Darwin Initiative
  • US Department of State, Regional Environmental Office
  • Ray C. Anderson Foundation
  • St. Andrews Prize for the Environment
  • Southern Partners and Fair Trade Center Inc., the Philippines
  • Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation, the Philippines
  • Ministry of Forests and Wildlife Conservation Service, Cameroon
  • Julius Baer Foundation
  • National Geographic Society