If you walk along India’s western coastline, you’ll have a breath-taking view of golden beaches, tall palms, and rocky cliffs. You’ll also see a lot of washed-up litter – such as water bottles, grocery bags, straws, and even fishing nets – sitting on those beaches. Today, plastic waste is one of the most pressing threats to our oceans, with discarded fishing nets being one of the most dangerous sources.
Every year, about 640,000 tons of fishing nets are abandoned in our oceans, trapping and entangling marine life, damaging coral reefs, and even ending up in our food and water sources. After fishermen forget their nets in the water or leave them on shore, the nets enter a vicious cycle of waste that hurts our planet. More broadly, our society’s ‘take-make-dispose’ approach is contributing to the rapid exhaustion of our planet’s precious resources. With these nets taking a toll on our environment, we need to act now to protect our collective future.
“We all have a shared responsibility toward our planet and future generations,” said Nileshkumar Kukalyekar, Business Director South Asia at Royal DSM’s Engineering Materials business. “There can be no plan B because there is no planet B. It’s imperative that we work together to develop creative solutions that help accelerate our shift to a more sustainable world.”
With this sustainability-focused mindset, DSM partnered with Samsung, a leading company in the mobile industry, to develop innovative and eco-conscious technology. “As a leading innovator in mobile experiences, Samsung is committed to using technology as a powerful tool to mitigate the impacts of climate change and help people adopt more sustainable lifestyles,” said Pranveer Singh Rathore, Materials R&D Manager MX Business at Samsung Electronics. “With our new Galaxy device, we're showcasing how our innovation can improve product design and minimize our environmental impact at the same time: the device incorporates Akulon® RePurposed , a high-performance polymer made from discarded ocean-bound fishing nets collected in and around the Indian Ocean. This marks an exciting step forward in our sustainability journey, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of our partners, including DSM.”
Protecting Our Oceans with Akulon® RePurposed
DSM’s journey with discarded fishing nets dates back to 2017, when Nileshkumar and his colleagues began to research ways to contribute to cleaner oceans and help customers drive a low-carbon circular economy. They found that they could do this by giving abandoned fishing nets a new life as part of valuable, high-performance materials. Working together with a local partner in India, DSM collected, sorted, cleaned, and processed the nets into polyamide resin pellets. Nileshkumar and his team then transformed these pellets into Akulon® RePurposed, an eco-conscious polymer that can be reinforced with glass fiber and is made with at least 80% recycled polyamide 6.
“Central to our mission in developing this polymer was creating a solution that benefited all stakeholders: the environment at large, the local community collecting the nets, and our customers,” said Nileshkumar. “Thanks to its unique properties, Akulon® RePurposed offers an excellent balance of simple design and leading mechanical performance, and can be applied to various industries such as automotive, consumer goods, and electronic devices.”