Ecuador: a second life for fishing nets

The scourge of discarded fishing nets is one of the most devastating forms of ocean plastic pollution worldwide. Every year, millions of tonnes of nets are lost or released into the sea, making an alarming contribution to the deterioration of the marine ecosystem.

However, a glimmer of hope is emerging from the coastal city of Manta, Ecuador, where the Bureo company has found a solution that is helping to reduce this global disaster.

Bureo, one of the world’s largest recyclers of fishing nets, is committed to solving this problem by working with over 30 local communities and fisheries in South America. In their factory, located just off the coast of Ecuador, he recovers astronomical quantities of used nets, which undergo a process of cleaning, sorting and then drying.

These nets are then sent to Asia, where they are transformed into pellets, a recycled plastic used in a variety of applications. Such is the case with world-renowned brand Patagonia, which is collaborating with Bureo to help reduce plastic pollution in the oceans. Thanks to their NetPlus program, the young company recycles over 1,500 tons of fishing nets every year, giving them a second life instead of polluting the planet.

The project was initiated by three friends with a passion for the marine environment: David, a financial expert, Kevin, a technical design specialist, and Ben, a sustainable development consultant. Spending their free time by the ocean, they were able to see just how much it was affected by plastic pollution. At the time, Ben was working as a sustainable development consultant, carrying out a study of the wild fisheries sector in Chile.

He was shocked by the extent of the damage to the environment caused by abandoned fishing nets. To his surprise, they agreed with him. The named problem was the lack of adequate infrastructure to dispose of nets reaching the end of their life. That’s when the team of young entrepreneurs decided to combine their unique skills with their passion, to turn this problem into an opportunity.

Jorge Andrés Moreira García, responsible for collecting abandoned fishing nets throughout the country

In 2023, the BUREO team successfully processed 116,343 kg of abandoned fishing nets in Ecuador.

Bureo’s story is not limited to its positive environmental impact. When asked about the meaning of their job, the founders emphasize its rewarding nature:

“It’s a privilege to decontaminate the oceans and collaborate with fishing communities who also want to change the course of events. Travelling, meeting artisanal and industrial fishermen, cooperating with them, all this nourishes and motivates me a lot”, explains one of the three friends. “Plus, I always have a bit of free time for a surf session! This job allows me to maintain my connection with the ocean.”

Bureo illustrates how passion and commitment to the environment can be transformed into a successful and inspiring business. Their story demonstrates that, in the face of environmental challenges, innovative solutions can emerge, creating a positive impact not only on the planet, but also on the lives of the people involved.

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