Italy - Volunteer divers have collected more than 4 tonnes (4000 kg) of fishing nets and other objects from the waters off the coast of the Aeolian Islands, Italy, which will be sent to a recycling factory in Slovenia and transformed into sustainable textiles for fashion houses across the globe.

Sustainable textile manufacturer Aquafil will clean and process the nets, before combining them with other nylon waste materials and turning them into Econyl regenerated nylon, a recyclable material that has been used by labels such as Gucci, Richard Malone and Adidas.

The dive took place over 3 days, between 6-8th October, in deep seas off the Italian coast. In a statement, Giulio Bonazzi, President and CEO of Aquafil, said: “The Healthy Seas initiative promotes marine protection and reduces ocean debris, while procuring the materials needed to create Econyl regenerated nylon for more responsible textiles for the fashion and carpet industry. And yet, this is a scheme that looks beyond ‘cleaning up’ and recycling; it moves towards a closed loop design and a new, more sustainable system”.

According to a UNEP and FAO report, 640,000 tonnes of fishing nets are left in the ocean each year, causing harm to local wildlife. Healthy Seas - the initiative behind the fishing gear recovery mission - has been operating for five years in the UK, Italy, Greece, Netherlands, and Belgium. During this time, the initiative has worked with volunteer divers and fishermen and has collected 375 tonnes of fishing nets - the equivalent weight of 2 blue whales - which has been transformed into sustainable textiles.