Ghost nets are fishing nets that have been left or lost in the ocean by fishermen. Millions of these nets are endangering fish and human beings. “On the one hand, sea creatures of all kinds get caught in the nets and die,” said Madeleine von Hohenthal and Benjamin Wenke, co-founders of Bracenet GmbH. “On the other hand, they litter the oceans. It takes 600 to 800 years for the nets to decompose and then they become dangerous micro plastics.” The Great Pacific garbage patch or the Pacific trash vortex is a gyre of marine debris particles in the Pacific Ocean and consists to 46 per cent of ghost nets, according to Bracenet.
Von Hohenthal and Wenke hit on the idea for Bracenet after coming across ghost nets during a diving holiday in Zanzibar in 2015. Freeing the world’s oceans of these pesky nets has become their mission ever since. The duo has since found strong partners in the marine conservation organisation Healthy Seas, local diving teams like Ghostfishers and the Norwegian company Nofir, which cleans the nets and prepares them for recycling. The high-quality nylon fibre becomes the basic component of swimwear or carpets. Bracenet also manufactures bracelets from the raw material – the name is a pun on the English “bracelet and “net”. The team and various sheltered workshops for the disabled in Hamburg, Neumunster and Duisburg have turned over four tons of nets into accessories in this way .
Developing sustainability strategies
Bracenet is expanding its product range from key rings to dog leashes this year. “But only after an intense quality check, which Martin Rütter, a dog whisperer, does for us,” said von Hohenthal. The upcycling approach matches the spirit of the 21st century. More and more companies, for instance, Werder Bremen, are developing internal sustainability strategies and turn to Bracenet for advice. “Apart from introducing ‘Sustainable Matchdays’, we looked at their merchandising products and considered how the plastic content could be reduced,” said Wenke.
Bugsierer Award 2019
The start-up’s idea won the Bugsierer 2019 in the prize category Hamburg Future. The award, presented for the first time by the Hamburg schnackt! Friends and Sponsors Association, honours powerful, committed Hamburg-based entrepreneurs and praised Bracenet’s unusual environmental protection idea.
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