UK based startup Fishy Filaments wants to provide a local, commercial route to intercept and recycle marine plastics and by doing so capture the value of those materials for the local economy after their first life as fishing gear.
The increase in plastic wastes found in the marine environment is a global phenomenon that manifests itself on a local scale. Whether they are microbeads washed into the sea from their use in cosmetics, fishing nets snagged on the seabed or even a tragic outcome of a tsunami, the issue of plastics in our shared oceans is rising on environmental, economic and political agendas.
The Fishy Filaments business model doesn’t pretend to address all these issues. Our aim is to provide a win-win solution to fishing communities by taking end-of-life fishing gear and plastics caught during normal fishing activities and producing a commercially viable product that has the potential for a multitude of uses.
Unlike established nylon recycling solutions our solution uses simple mechanical and thermal processes that can be achieved at a local scale and with no chemicals added.
The plastics contained in fishing nets have a value as a raw material, unfortunately the economics of the global recycling industry works against establishing a local-scale solution, and as a result we see the value of those nets exiting the county, or worse; going to landfill or being added to waste-to-energy streams.
To this point the project has been self-financed, but has been working with the support of Fishing for Litter (South West) and The Newlyn Pier and Harbour Commissioners, with the aim of taking both caught marine litter (sometimes known as ghost gear) and end-of-life fishing nets, processing them locally and producing a valuable hi-tech material for the fast-growing 3D printing sector.
The project has already produced a world first; we made a 3D printed form made entirely from recycled fishing nets that were used by the Newlyn fleet and in the longer term we have plans to take other locally-arising wastes, produced by boat and board-building, to add further products to the portfolio.
The ultimate aim is to go into commercial production, securing supplies of used fishing gear from around the county, and maybe further, making local hires and selling the 3D printing filament to a national or possibly global market. For Fishy Filaments a sustainable business is one that is self-supporting as well as being socially and environmentally responsible.
However before we can get to that full commercial roll-out, there remains a phase of up-scaling and product testing that needs to be done. It is this advanced feasibility study that we are asking for help with.
To this point our Research and Development has been a well-thought through, but manual process able to produce only limited lengths of filament at a time. To get our product consistency high enough to justify sending the product to external testers, the R&D kit used so far needs to be replaced by lab grade production machinery.
The £5000 target is sufficient to buy the professional-quality equipment necessary to produce a testable product and construct demo pieces from that product. This feasibility study will also provide the numbers upon which a final business plan will be built before we enter a final round of ‘go live’ funding.
Technically we’ve proven the process. Now we need to prove that a business can be built on it.