"Turning waste into a resource: this is how we will save the sea by net-working” - Risacca team
I’m deeply connected with the water element since my family decided we would have a boat, a few years ago. Then, my father built it with his own hands.
In the sailing culture, it is common-use giving fancy names to the boats, like Adrenalina, Niente Paura, Luna Rossa, or Masquenada, like the one he has built from scratch.
It means “better than nothing” in Brazilian.
Throughout history, the marine culture, especially the one behind the fishermen as in Italy so in the rest of the coastal areas around the world, consisted in the application of the “better than nothing” motto from the cooking, by serving the poorer but tastier receipts made from the cheapest unsold catches, to the production of recycled/refurbished tools like nets, chairs, boxes, flags made out exclusively of recovered materials.
The ports adopted a resilient mechanism that allows the reuse of the materials that are basically resistant, in order to not waste anything.
But when it comes to the “deep” the virtuous cycle suddenly breaks and the tools which are exclusively assigned to the fishing are already conceived as litter, due to several economic factors and the lack of accountability in an organized disposal chain. They become waste intrinsically just before their use. Like disposable cameras or plastic tableware but, sadly, those wastes are left purposely unseen, under the water.
“At this stage, plastic is in the DNA of the planet sickening ecosystems. It is estimated that in 2050 our seas will have more plastic than fish. 46% of this plastic is ghost net abandoned in the sea. Here in Mazara del Vallo, the production of fishing nets reaches more than 10 tons each year, whose disposal burdens on the economies of fishermen. Sometimes they are led to resort to illegal disposal methods.” These are the words of Federica Ditta, designer and one of the founders of Risacca, together with Carlo Roccafiorita and Cristiano Pesca, three under-35 professionals behind the project that promotes innovative solutions for reusing and recycling waste from the fishing industry, recovered from the sea. Their aim is to recover and turn it into new products.
In a few months the founders of Risacca recycled 1 ton of fishing nets, tested the first products and won the European Green Impact Med Award, the price assigned to projects that have distinguished them for developing eco-innovative ventures, for creating employment and driving the green and circular economy in the Mediterranean.
Risacca is a circular economy project born and based in Mazara del Vallo, a small harbor city located in the southeast isle of Italy, in Sicily. The city has been historically linked to the fishing industry and unlucky plagued for several years by financial and unemployment crisis, as a lack of generational turnover. “It was the third fishing port in Europe, men and women found sustenance and growth within it”.
The collection of products is now oriented towards pieces of ethical fashion and sustainable design exclusively made off nets rescued in the waters of Mazara del Vallo.
But the project is in a way conceived to be modular or systemic: it is not just producing pieces of a collection, it is about sewing connections.
“By introducing innovation we can help to find solutions that generate work and protect the environment. With Risacca we have designed a process that will allow the community to transform nets into resources, while generating social impact”, says Carlo talking about the future and the scalability of the proposal which is conceived to be applied wherever those issues bend the ecosystem, both social as biological.
So we come to Risacca LAB, the tassel that completes the life cycle of the waste.
How? By launching a fundraiser.
If financed, Risacca LAB would be a social tailor's shop and a recycling center built in a recovered container. This laboratory will transform fishing nets into everyday objects while offering job opportunities by involving local artisans and will raise awareness of more and more inhabitants on the plastic in the sea issue. Ancient knowledge and traditions are processed as well and transferred into the Laboratory and new generations from the elderly generation.
According to a 2019 Greenpeace report, lost or abandoned fishing gear form the majority of plastic pollution in the sea, more than straws and plastic bottles. Up to 640,000 tons of nets, lines, pots and traps used in commercial fishing are dumped and thrown overboard each year.
It is an impressive number, but worryingly real, just considering the 1 ton “catch” that Risacca made these past months just in the Mazara area.
The container will be placed in a regenerated park in Mazara del Vallo, Periferica.
It will house machinery for sewing, shredding, pressing, melting, extruding fishing nets and plastic materials.
The aim of Carlo, Federica and Cristiano is to replicate Risacca LAB in several Italian ports to expand the community. “Our vision - urges Carlo - is to replicate the experience of Risacca LAB in every Italian port. We consider Mazara as a first test to respond to a widespread need in many cities and communities raised around the sea”.
To support Risacca project, you need to connect to the dedicated page of bottom-up productions and donate by choosing from the rewards: handmade net bags, experiences, 3D printed elements, training activities.
There is also the opportunity to participate in the transformation of the container into the laboratory, discovering Mazara in seven days.
There is time until February 13 to get on board and promote this young innovation project.