Healthy Sea Socks made from recycled fishing nets

Recycled fishing nets from Cordova will help launch a new clothing line by Grundens. The Copper River Watershed Project is “refreshing” its net recycle program underway for a decade backed by the Pacific Marine States Commission.  Now the program wants to broaden its base. Shae Bowman is Watershed Operations Manager.

“So the vision with a new program is really to create a self-sustaining recycling program that is a valued asset to the commercial fishing fleet. And also we want to provide a high quality product to recyclers. And then we don’t want to have to be constantly chasing down grants and sources of funding for the program.”   

Enter Nicole Baker of Net Your Problem who has jumpstarted net recycle programs throughout Alaska. 

“I think the gill net fleet is pretty dialed in. That’s a lot of the material that they receive, but seines are made out of the same type of plastic that gill nets are, so those two gear types can be recycled together.”

A goal this summer is to fill a 40 foot shipping container for shipment to a recycling center in Europe.

Bowman says changes in the market mean that unlike before, nets must be clean and stripped before drop off.

“What I really want to get the word out is that we need to recycle nets better. Our nets coming in really need to be clean and stripped of any non-nylon material – that’s the cork lines, the lead lines, the hanging twine, all that needs to be removed. I’m trying to increase our quality.”

European recyclers will turn the nets not into pellets for making other plastics, but yarn for clothing.

Enter Grundens.

“Our statement as a brand is “we are fishing.”  

Mat Jackson is Grundens chief marketing officer.

“We believe it’s really important to use our brand voice and strength to help protect and maintain healthy marine environments and to lend a hand where we can.  But at some point, you’ve got to just start doing it and making the process happen. And Cordova, when talking with Nicole, became something that seemed like a tangible opportunity.”   

Jackson says the project also dovetails nicely with Grundens new clothing line.

“In 2021 we are launching a full line of products from technical outerwear to more lifestyle casual items like shorts built out of Econyl regenerated nylon, which is largely comprised of recycled fishing nets and has been a main source that Nicole has been pursuing in terms of shipping this gear out of Alaska and into a recycler supply chain.”

Jackson hopes that Grundens’  involvement will spike a recycling effort the whole industry embraces.