Discarded fishing nets from Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea given new lease of life as surfboards

Discarded fishing nets will soon be given a new life as surfboard components. 

Global science-based firm in health and nutrition Royal DSM has partnered waterports company Starboard to collect and upcycle discarded fishing nets to create a material for consumer goods, including surfboard components.

In doing so, the collaboration supports litter-free beaches, a healthier marine environment and creates a positive social impact for local communities in India, DSM said in a press statement on September 26, 2018. 

Photo courtesy: DSM
Photo courtesy: DSM

Born out of shared passion for a cleaner environment and a circular economy, DSM and Starboard came together when the surfboard company selected DSM’s Akulon RePurposed. The resin used in the product is fully recycled from discarded nylon-based fishing nets and is known for both its sustainability profile and performance.

The discarded fishing nets are gathered from the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea. They are then given a new lease of life as fins, fin boxes, SUP pumps, and other structural parts in surfboards. All the products made using Akulon RePurposed are branded as NetPositive! by Starboard.

Matt Gray, Commercial Director Asia Pacific, DSM Engineering Plastics. Photo courtesy: DSM
Matt Gray, Commercial Director Asia Pacific, DSM Engineering Plastics. Photo courtesy: DSM

“At DSM, we look beyond society’s current model of take-make-dispose and instead try to mimic nature and the circle of life,” said Matt Gray, Commercial Director Asia Pacific, DSM Engineering Plastics. "For example, in our collaboration with Starboard we use waste to make a long-lasting, high-value material that can again be recovered at the end of its life cycle to become something new." 

Svein Rasmussen, Founder and CEO, Starboard, said, "One of the most satisfying parts of our work is the challenge of redesigning our products to lower their environmental impact and achieve higher performance. Through this collaboration with DSM, we showcase how quick and easy it can be to change the way we build better boards for the planet.”

In addition to addressing environmental concerns, the collection, sorting, cleaning and processing of discarded fishing nets creates sustainable livelihoods for several local communities in India. More than 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the oceans, wreaking havoc on marine wildlife and fisheries and costing at least USD 8 billion in damage to marine ecosystems.

Svein Rasmussen, Founder and CEO, Starboard. Photo courtesy: Starboard
Svein Rasmussen, Founder and CEO, Starboard. Photo courtesy: Starboard

Abandoned plastic fishing nets are a part of the problem.

Fishing nets abandoned at sea remain in the marine ecosystem for hundreds of years. Known as ghost fishing nets, experts have estimated that there are roughly 640 000 tonnes of these nets currently in our ocean, accounting for almost 10 percent of all plastic waste in the sea.

Kareyst Lin
Kareyst Lin – Senior Correspondent

Kareyst has experience in writing about B2B technology for Computerworld Singapore, MIS Asia and CIO Asia; and on government technology for GCIO Asia. Her pet areas are artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and smart cities - these are fueled by her obsession with sci-fi movies and philosophy of mind. An active Yoga practitioner and cat lover, with a background in Indian philosophy, subaltern and diaspora studies.


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