Old Nets, New Product

Sitting outside the public library in Unalaska, AK, then Fisheries Observer Nicole Baker was reading a story from Parley for the Oceans about Adidas using reclaimed fishing gear in a sneaker. A lightbulb popped on. Fishing nets are plastic…so why is no one making any major moves on recycling them?

Then and there, the concept of Net Your Problem was born. Nicole took many years working towards connecting the dots to get fishing gear (gillnets, seines, trawl nets, crab lines) collected from Fisherman and then shipped to the proper recycling plants, one of the few being in Denmark. Her new role as a ‘broker’ for recycling nets and lines came with the mission to keep fishing gear out of the landfill and oceans. But most importantly, to get discarded nets and lines into the hands of who can create plastic pellets from the old gear, so it can be properly incorporated back into the circular economy.

Companies like Aquafil can also use the nets to make a Regenerated Nylon fiber called ECONYL® and Nicole’s vision and mission are enabling brands like Grundéns to make products from nets. The Sidereal Pants, Shorts and Women’s Circe Leggings, depend in part, on the nets that Nicole has collected, becoming part of the recycled plastic supply chain.

In order to grow Net Your Problem, Nicole now has a warehouse in Ballard, WA with a bailing machine able to handle the seine web, gillnets and line she gets from around Alaska and Washington. With collection sites also active in Maine, more are in development in the Florida Keys as well as a site in Bristol Bay, Alaska opening in summer of 2022. The long range vision for Nicole and Net Your Problem? To have collection sites in the top 50 ports in the US, distributed across all regions.