Date:   26th-27th October

Location:   UCA Farnham, UK

Successful Circular Ocean #Net_Hack_Challenge at Centre for Sustainable Design (CfSD)!

Circular Ocean, a transnational European project which aims to help turn waste plastic from the sea into a useful resource, recently held an eco-innovation workshop involving waste fishing nets and ropes (FNRs) in Farnham, UK.  Circular Ocean, which is funded under the EU’s ERDF Interreg VB Northern Periphery and Arctic (NPA) programme, aims to support the move to a more circular economy and inspire remote communities within northern Europe and the Arctic to realise the economic opportunities of discarded marine plastic, in particular, fishing nets and ropes.

Circular Ocean’s UK partner, the Centre for Sustainable Design (CfSD) at UCA developed a  #Net_Hack_Challenge workshop in relation to waste fishing nets and ropes (FNRs), led by Professor Martin Charter , the founder of CfSD. Established in 1995, CfSD is a world leading research and training centre focused on sustainable innovation and product sustainability and the #Net_Hack_Challenge provided a platform for participants to think, develop and create innovative solutions to challenges associated with the fishing industry.

Eight challenges were established by experts in the area, which aimed to encourage solutions surrounding the re-use, re-purposing and recycling of waste FNRs, which were provided by MCB Seafoods. The UN highlighted in 2009 that 640,000 tonnes of fishing nets and ropes are dumped into the ocean each year injuring and killing marine mammals and birds, and disrupting shipping. These waste FNRs are one of the problems the Circular Ocean project aims to tackle, through providing an opportunity to understand and capitalise on the value of waste FNRs, and ultimately provide economic and environmental benefits in doing so. In this way, the workshop contributed to one of the key project objectives of the project to develop eco-innovation and eco-entrepreneurship in the Northern Arctic and Periphery (NPA) region. Lessons learned from the workshop will be used to steer another workshop in 2017 in Iceland and potentially in other areas of the NPA region also.

As part of the hack workshop, thirty UCA craft and design postgraduate students and others took part in the challenge over a full day workshop, with an introductory session also. Groups were established and were given a selection of waste FNRs, with the ultimate outcome being an innovative product, which was pitched in front of a panel of experts who provided their feedback. Critical to the solutions was that they were re-utilising waste materials and many creative ideas and inventive concepts were generated including; lighting design concepts, football goals, benches made from lobster pots, outdoor cushions and much more.

UCA Post Graduate Subject Leader for the School of Craft and Design Rebecca Skeels said; “This type of project enables students to explore new ways of working, thinking and learning which feeds into each students own personal development, whilst also undertaking a fun activity without pressure of assessment and final finished outcomes.”  Similarly, Mike Barrett, UCA MA Glass, Artist & Analytics Consultant said; “Our team was a diverse mix – jewellery, textiles, product design and glass – we rarely get a chance to meet, let alone collaborate. But once we got the bit between our teeth it was like we had been working together for years. I still marvel at how much quality work we produced and the coherence of the ideas”

Presenters at the workshop included Professor Martin Charter (CfSD), who stated; “UCA postgraduate students really engaged with #Net_Hack_Challenge and developed some excellent concepts that show real potential. A number of the UCA design teams are exploring co-development opportunities with Challengers.”

Campaigns Manager at World Animal Protection Christina Dixon, who also presented, outlines how; “It was fantastic to see the response to the challenges I submitted to develop sustainable and replicable solutions to the problem of ghost fishing gear, an issue which has wide-ranging impacts on marine animals, coastal livelihoods and the environment. I’m hoping to see some of the concepts taken forward as innovation and sustainable thinking will be key to solving this problem.” Christina also wrote a blog about her experience of the Net Hack Challenge, available here.

Please contact or for further information or if you would like to discuss a collaboration opportunity. Visit the #Net_Hack_Challenge Circular Ocean event page to keep up to date on the challenge concepts and how they are developing.