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Sustainable Solution Found for Used Aquaculture Nets

05 February 2014

SCOTLAND, UK - Two Scottish companies have worked together to find a solution for the problem of used nets within the aquaculture industry.

W & J Knox Ltd, a long-established Ayrshire-based manufacturer of nets for the Scottish aquaculture industry and a producer of various fibres for the European carpet industry, working together with Scottish Sea Farms (SSF) will implement a highly sustainable solution for aquaculture nets that have come to the end of their working life.

Scottish Sea Farms is a major user of high quality marine specification nets, with over 300 in the sea at any time. As marine farms fallow each net is individually tested by Scottish Sea Farms Net Station technicians at Lochaline. Nets failing the required containment standards are rejected with individual net life being three to five years, depending on site-specific environmental conditions.

Knox has identified an Italian company, Aquafil, as having the required recycling competence. Aquafil can process a cleaned, redundant net and manufacture a fibre called ECONYL®, a 100 per cent recycled yarn. Cleaned and disinfected Scottish Sea Farms nets leaving the Lochaline site or the Knox manufacturing HQ at Kilbirnie, are received and primary processed by an Aquafil plant in Slovenia – one of thirteen Aquafil operates around the world. The cleaned nylon waste is shredded, compacted, bagged, and transported to the ECONYL regeneration plant in Ljubljana. Aquafil is capable of processing over 16,000 tons of nylon waste per year.

Aquafil believes the environmental benefits of using one tonne of ECONYL include water savings equivalent to the daily consumption of 75 people; a reduction in organic waste equivalent to the amount produced by 500 people in a day; a reduction in CO2 emissions equivalent to the amount produced by a car travelling over 20,000 km; and energy savings equivalent to the amount needed to power 400 light bulbs for a week.

According to W & J Knox Managing Director, Jim Traynor: “Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this initiative is that the process is simply limitless; the net materials can be recycled an infinite number of times while always keeping the same high standard of quality compared to a virgin yarn.

“This means that the nets leaving the Knox factory will spend four to five years at sea producing high quality salmon for Scottish Sea Farms before being recycled back into a useful product that can be used over and over again, maybe as carpet fibre or as part of a vehicle.”

Commenting on the success of the partnership, Jim Gallagher, Managing Director of Scottish Sea Farms, said: “Our key customers increasingly expect us to explore every opportunity to improve efficiency and reduce environmental impact. What we have achieved together with Knox shows how an ‘industry problem’ can be solved with creativity and imagination.”

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