Net-Works (TM)

Interface Inc
Published: 14 November 2015
Last edited: 30 September 2020
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Net-Works is an award-winning initiative that redesigns global supply chains to reduce marine plastic, replenish declining fish stocks and improve the socio-ecological resilience of marginalised coastal communities living in biodiversity hotspots of developing countries. We connect these communities to global brands via a fair and inclusive buisness model that delivers "less plastic, more fish". One example is the esatblishment of a community-based supply chain for discarded fishing nets in the Philippines and Cameroon that prevents these nets from becoming ghost nets. Nets are recycled into nylon yarn that is used to create beautiful high design carpet tiles by Interface Inc. Net-Works was co-created by conservation charity the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and carpet-tile manufacturer Interface Inc.


Southeast Asia
West and Central Africa
Scale of implementation
Coral reef
Freshwater ecosystems
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Pool, lake, pond
Fisheries and aquaculture
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Health and human wellbeing
Indigenous people
Local actors
Marine litter
Outreach & communications
Sustainable livelihoods
Pollution (incl. eutrophication and litter)
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Lack of access to long-term funding
Changes in socio-cultural context
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 14 – Life below water
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
Aichi targets
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 8: Pollution reduced
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 11: Protected and conserved areas


Philippines | Cameroon


  1. The problem of discarded fishing nets in some of the poorest coastal communities, which cause marine pollution and harm aquatic life, due to the lack of a sustainable means of disposal.
  2. Raising awareness and changing people’s behaviour so that they stop throwing used nets away in the first place.
  3. Lack of access to financial services, which makes it hard for people to save money or access loans.
  4. Declining fish stocks, an over-reliance on fishing as a source of income and the need to diversify livelihoods.


The main beneficiaries are local communities - fishers and their families from 26 communities in the Philippines and 9 communities in Cameroon. Others include Aquafil (Yarn Producer), Interface (Carpet Tile Manufacturer), ZSL (Conservation Charity).

How do the building blocks interact?

Each of these building blocks is interdependent. Net-Works would not have been possible without the right partnership - the perfect blend of need, expertise, and mindset that enabled two unlikely collaborators, ZSL and Interface, to pioneer such an innovative programme. The community banks are the social infrastructure at the heart of Net-Works - they bring the community together and are the mechanism for community organising and decision making. The income from net sales can be saved via the community banks, and the environment funds are set up by community bank members to fund local conservation projects. Finally, the successful engagement of the local communities relies on close working with local partners who provide on-the-ground knowledge and expertise.


Since 2012, over 167 metric tons of waste nets have been collected through Net-Works. At least 1,500 families have been given access to finance through the community banks that Net-Works sets up, and 62,000 people have benefitted from a healthier environment. To date, we have environmental funds established in 55 community banks, with 1,217 members contributing approximately $2,925 of savings directly towards local conservation actions and marine management. Through Net-Works we are protecting 1,112.23 ha of aquatic habitat across 8 community based protected areas.


Zoological Society of London

Mia Apurado is the Business Operations Manager for Net-Works in the Philippines. She has seen first hand how fishing communities’ attitudes and behaviours around discarding nets have changed as a result of Net-Works: “They realise that instead of just throwing their nets in the ocean or anywhere it is something that they can earn from. Their values and attitudes have actually changed.” Arcelene Baculao Murillo, a member of the community and the book keeper for her local community bank says: “There is much less garbage because the community members have been participating, cooperating, and helping to remove the nets and garbage.”


Fanny Djomkam is the community coordinator for Net-Works in the Lake Ossa region of Cameroon. Her role involves working with communities to set up locally managed community banks and net collection activities. “Net-Works has benefitted local communities in many ways, but for me the biggest benefit has been the community banks or VSLAs as we call them locally. VSLAs have really helped to strengthen fisher communities. They provide a simple and effective mechanism that enables fishermen to organise themselves and manage their savings in a way that is clear and accountable. Where there may have been conflicts in the past, the VSLAs have helped communities come together in a spirit of cooperation. Fishermen committees are now working with the local administration to co-manage the lake and ensure the code of fishing is enforced. It’s brilliant to see them feeling so empowered.”

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Nick Hill Zoological Society of London