Empowering communities by turning waste into opportunity
In 2012, Interface and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) embarked on a unique partnership. It began with the question: how could a carpet tile help address inequality?
Interface wanted to source material in a way that would benefit communities as well as the environment. ZSL wanted to develop a new model of community-based conservation, one that would bring immediate benefits to local people and break the traditional cycle of donor dependency.
The result is Net-Works – an innovative business that empowers people in coastal communities in the developing world to collect and sell discarded nylon fishing nets, thereby removing these nets from the ocean where they wreak havoc with marine life. The nets are then sold into a global supply chain and recycled into yarn to make carpet tile.
At the heart of Net-Works are the local community banks it sets up. Run by community members, they provide access to finance in a way that is convenient and local, enabling people to save money, including their earnings from net sales, and take out small loans. The banks also manage the local net supply chain: they organize coastal clean-ups, facilitate sales transactions and create “environment funds” to help finance local conservation projects.
Since 2012 over 125 metric tons of waste nets have been collected through Net-Works, 900 families have been given access to finance and 60,000 people have benefited from a healthier environment.
Read more about our impact and future goals.
Watch our video to learn more about the Net-Works story and where it all began.