Bureo works to keep the most harmful form of plastic pollution, fishing nets, from entering our oceans.
Discarded nets can continue to operate at a very high fishing efficiency if left in the marine environment, sometimes up to 10 years. Fish caught in nets can attract predators and scavengers that also become ensnared, creating a negative feedback loop. Synthetic materials commonly used in fishing gear may last up to 600 years in the ocean, degrading into microplastics which have the potential for bioaccumulation in marine animals that consume these materials.
The problem here is not the fishermen, but the lack of infrastructure available for when the nets meet their end of life. Bureo works together with fisheries and local communities to provide an incentivized program to collect, clean, sort and recycle fishing nets into Bureo’s NetPlus® material, creating positive solutions for end-of-life fishing nets, employment opportunities for local workers, and funding for community programs.
Bureo is a certified B Corporation, a California Benefits Corporation, and a member of 1% for the Planet. With support from Patagonia and Tin Shed Ventures, Bureo began recycling fishing nets from Chile in 2013 and have since expanded net sourcing operations to Peru and Argentina. They are currently in the process of initiating programs in Mexico and Ecuador.
Bureo takes a community-based approach, working to build the first 100% traceable and 100% recycled fishing net supply chain. Bureo’s approach is specific to providing local solutions to end-of-life nets, thus targeting the most critical forms of fishing net waste and providing direct local support to fishing communities.
To date, Bureo has collected more than 7.2 million pounds of discarded nets from 62 fisheries and fishing communities - keeping nets out of the marine environment and meeting demand for NetPlus® material. The team has demonstrated their ability execute operationally and have already repurposed net waste within over 13 million products with several consumer brands.
CI Ventures’ $500,000 investment will support the replication of recycling programs, including equipment, teams and leased facilities in Peru, Ecuador and Mexico, with an immediate target to collect 4,000 tons of discarded nets by 2026. This funding will support Bureo’s operating costs during their current fundraising, as well as recycling program launches in three new countries.
Whether accidentally lost or deliberately abandoned, long-lasting ghost gear harms wildlife and damages important habitats, which in turn economically impacts fisheries and coastal communities. A recent study from UCSB estimated that over 1.3M tons (2.8 billion pounds) of new fishing nets were put into use in 2017, highlighting the scale of the issue and the continuous accumulation of discarded nets along nearly every coastline.
This investment will facilitate expansion plans in support of:
Enabling collection of discarded fishing nets to scale from 800tons/yr to 4,000tons/yr by 2026;
Creating more than 25+ additional employment opportunities while expanding the program to more than 100 fishing communities;
Avoiding +34,500 tons of GHG by 2026 through replacing virgin nylon in consumer-brand supply chains.