Plastics in old fishing nets will be turned into new prototypes next month at Net Hack Challenges in Kodiak and Anchorage.

“The goal of the event is to give people an opportunity to look at this material not as a waste material but as a raw material land perhaps to set up a business to produce products that are made out of recycled nets.”

Nicole Baker is an event organizer.

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The two-day Challenge, based on the Circular Ocean program in the U.K. and Iceland, is open to anyone but especially targeted to artists, students, designers, business owners, engineers and recyclers. Day one will include presentations on the scope of the problem and showcase businesses that are recycling plastic nets into new products.

“Beautiful rope rugs, Jenga games, socks, bathing suits, sunglasses, frisbees, skateboards, carpets, there’s all types of things you could be making out of plastic fibers.   Alternatively, you could just use the ropes or the net in its raw form.”

On day two, teams will design prototypes that will be judged by a panel connected the two venues via live video –

“For example, if  you want to make an actual prototype which is using the nets, like a little mini version, that is fine. If you want to design something on the computer that’s also fine. The judges will be judging on creativity, usefulness and scalability. So it doesn’t matter if you physically create something or design it on the computer.”

Selected items will be mentored by the Alaska Ocean Cluster Initiative with its programs that help small businesses and startups become commercially viable.

“We’re going to do the kind of simple, hands on things that you can manipulate manually – keep in mind that you could upscale it if you know something about engineering and equipment and how to manufacture things into new types of products.”

Brian Himelbloom is a retired seafood specialist who is organizing the Kodiak challenge.

The net hack group also is creating a tool kit for remote communities interested in having their own challenges.

 “If Alaska gets on board, it could be another revenue stream.”

 The events will take place September 8 and 9 at the Makerspace Building in Anchorage and at the Kodiak Marine Science Center.

Visit www.alaskaoceancluster.com to register to attend.

Meanwhile, Nicole Baker will be in Kodiak later this month to start a fish net recycling program similar to Dutch Harbor’s.  Last year she sent 40 nets weighing 240,000 pounds to a company called Plastix in Denmark where they were melted down, pelletized and resold to manufacturers of plastic products.

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