Belgian producer of biodegradable fishing nets is awarded Food Planet Prize


B4Pastics has been awarded the 2021 Food Planet Prize for designing biodegradable fishing nets. This way they want to help ending the massive problem of plastic pollution and ghost fishing gear in the oceans. The Curt Bergfors Food Planet Prize is the largest monetary award (now $2 million to each of 2 winners) in the global food industry, and rewards innovative solutions and encourages agents of change to help realize the shift to sustainable food systems. 

B4Plastics, based in the province of Limburg in Flanders (Belgium), is working on "gears that biodegrade in 6 weeks, after 2 years of use and to pave the way for a shift from fossil-based plastics to recyclable and degradable materials in textiles and fishing gear." They produce "eco-plastics" designed and realised with BioBased Building Blocks, using polymer architecture technology. Founder Stefaan de Wilderman established the company in 2014 because he found, as so many of us, that his life was getting infested by plastic. A biochemist, he started designing several alternatives for single-use plastics. In 2020 he joined European Commission-funded research and innovation project GLAUKOS, named after the Greek god and patron of fishermen. Glaukos aims to reduce marine plastic pollution by making innovation in the textile and fishing gear industries.

Why will biodegradable fishing gear have such a great impact? While many people are aware that the oceans are full of garbage, many don't know that discarded fishing nets and ropes represent an immense portion of all plastic pollution in the oceans. About 1 million tonnes of gear ends up as ghost nets in global seas, joining all the other garbage. And unlike plastic bottles or plastic bags, fishing nets are designed for one main function: to catch and kill. Many marine animals die entangled in ghost gear, making the marine death toll much greater than the number of sea creatures that humans eat. If we want to continue eating fish in the future, sustainable ocean management is crucial and losses have to be avoided. The initiatives of B4Plastic show that change is possible and that humans can produce smart solutions. 

Watch this compelling video of about 4 minutes, Stefaan De Wilderman explains his inventions and mission.

An article by Kathelijne Bonne.

Good Climate News is an initiative by the Bonne sisters from Belgium, Elisabeth, Helena and Kathelijne. "We believe in the power of good news".

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