Bracenet sucht Geisternetze bei Nofir aus

Nofir – Preparing nets for recycling and upcycling

Introducing our partners: Part 3

When we recover ghost nets with Healthy Seas and Ghost Diving, we are not looking for the colourful and beautiful nets you know from our products. For now, they are still dirty and covered with seaweed! Only after our partner Nofir has cleaned them in an environmentally friendly process, will they regain their many colours. Nofir makes an invaluable contribution to the fight against ghost nets and in this article, we want to tell you more about their work. At the end we also introduce a new Bracenet, so stay tuned! 

Who is Nofir?

Nofir AS is a leading company collecting discarded equipment from fishing and fish farming around the world. The company has built an international, circular-economy network that creates value while combating a long-standing threat to marine life and the environment.

Nofir was founded in Norway in 2008 to originally establish a nationwide system for collecting and processing discarded fishing equipment – Nofir collects the equipment and prepares it for recycling. This step was desperately needed as in Norway alone, 15,000 tons of fishing equipment were thrown away every year without proper access to environmentally friendly disposal channels. Since 2012, Nofir has been supported by the Eco Innovation Scheme of the European Union to extend its system across Europe. As a result, Nofir also cleans the nets recovered by Healthy Seas and Ghost Diving, so that we can handcraft them into our Bracenets, dog leashes and more. Until now, Nofir has collected discarded fishing gear from five continents (Europe, Africa, Asia, America and Antarctica), but is mainly active in Europe.

After Nofir has dismantled the nets, our friends from the Lebenshilfewerk Neumünster help us in storing them.
After Nofir has dismantled the nets, our friends from the Lebenshilfewerk Neumünster help us in storing them.

What is Nofir’s mission?

Quite frequently, old fishing gear is lost at sea or landfilled. It is usually more expensive to recycle them, as conventional waste management systems can hardly cope with fishing nets weighing up to 50 tonnes. This gives the fishing industry good (or at least economic) reason to dispose of them illegally.

Nofir was founded to put an end to this dilemma. Fishing companies were to receive an incentive to dispose of their equipment in an environmentally friendly way, i.e. to recycle it and return their material to the product cycle. Nofir’s motto sums up its mission: “Bringing value to marine waste”.

How exactly does Nofir operate?

First, Nofir collects discarded fishing gear from all over Europe. Their system provides a clear channel for the disposal of materials used in ropes and nets that have previously typically been landfilled. Collected nets are transported to Nofir’s factories in Lithuania or Turkey where they are prepared for recycling. The nets are cleaned in the Turkish factory.

Only water is used for this and the wastewater is filtered afterwards, so that not a single drop goes to waste. That’s why we have such a close working relationship with Nofir: There can hardly be a more environmentally friendly and efficient way to clean the ghost nets.

Nofirs large washing drums to clean the fishing nets
These large drums are used to clean the fishing nets

Once cleaned, the equipment is disassembled into its individual parts and sorted by material. The nets and ropes made of nylon, polypropylene and polyethylene as well as the other components made of steel and lead are passed on to specialised partners for recycling. As a result, the nets are completely re-used and the recycled products are of better quality, as no materials mix is used. Nofir lives up to its own motto, creating new value from waste – and at the same time prevents new ghost nets from entering the oceans.

Nofir disassembles the nets into their components.
In halls like this one, Nofir disassembles the nets into their components.

Nofir hands over the majority of its cleaned ghost nets to the Aquafil recycling factory. Aquafil shreds nylon nets and textile production waste such as carpet scraps into so-called “fluff” and then processes it into ECONYL®, a clear nylon yarn of equal quality as nylon made from raw materials. This yarn is used to make new textile products such as carpets and swimwear. Of course, a portion of the nets also goes to us – but more about that later!

Nofir’s success

From 2011 to 2018 alone, Nofir has collected, cleaned and prepared over 40,000 tonnes of old fishing gear for further processing. According to Nofir LCA, without Nofir’s efforts, only 20% of the equipment would have been recycled, 35 % would have been discarded at sea, and 45 % would have been disposed of in landfills. But thanks to Nofir’s system, a staggering 80 % have been recycled and the remaining 20 % have found other applications – for example as Bracenets! With over 40,000 tonnes of recycled fishing gear, Nofir has made an invaluable contribution to the protection of the environment and our resources. Compared to a new production of materials, Nofir’s efforts have saved 70,700 tons of oil and resulted in 149,000 tons of CO2 less in our atmosphere. In more visual terms, Nofir’s activity since 2011 has contributed to a reduction in greenhouse gases equivalent to more than 9,500 full Airbus A319 flights from Olso TRF to London LTN.

Our collaboration with Nofir

You are probably wondering where we come into play. After all, we don’t recycle ghost nets, but process them in their original form. That’s why we always visit Nofir before the nets are handed in for recycling and select those that are still in good condition on site. These are not all of them by any means – for example, many nets have been stuck on the rough sea bed or wrecks for so long that they are completely scraped.

Our nets of choice are generally made of HDPE (high-density polyethylene), as these are well suited for daily use and can give us many more years of joy. After each visit, we have a large selection of nets available again – so we have plenty of new product variations to develop for you. In our Ecofuencer video we tell you more about the criteria we use to select the nets.

Our founder Madeleine is looking for suitable nets for our products
Our founder Madeleine is looking for suitable nets for our products

Once we have made our selection, all we have to do is bring the nets to us in Germany. To this end, we wait until a transporter with empty space drives in our direction anyway, and book the available space for our nets. This way we transport the nets as environmentally friendly as possible.

Our expression of thanks: the Arctic Ocean Bracenet!

Without Nofir, Bracenet would not be what it is today. Therefore, we want to thank them from the bottom of our hearts for their great work: with a special bracenet edition, the Arctic Ocean! Its deep blue colour reminds us of the beautiful fjords of Norway and thus of Nofir’s home. This Bracenet comes with a bayonet clasp and fits particularly securely around your wrist.

Arctic Ocean Bracenet
The newest addition to the Bracenet family: The Arctic Ocean!

How can I learn more?

To learn more about Nofir, visit their website directly! On this website, you can learn more about the positive impact Nofir’s recycling has on the planet. You can also find more information about the success of the EU Eco Innovation Initiative with Nofir here.

You might also be interested in the other topics of our blog, for example 5 facts you should know about ghost nets. Alongside Nofir, we also introduced our partners Healthy Seas, Ghost Diving and the Lebenshilfewerk Neumünster. We regularly publish new articles, so please check back soon!

Do you belong to a fishery looking to dispose of its old fishing gear? Then contact Nofir directly by clicking on the “Discard Form” button on the left of their homepage.

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