• Tech Tech

This company makes skateboards, sunglasses, and Patagonia jackets out of recycled fishing nets — here's how they do it

"We want to show that this isn't just about the fishermen agreeing to give us the nets."


Bureo, a company headquartered in California with on-the-ground operations in Chile, is the company behind skateboards, sunglasses, clothing, and even a marine-friendly version of Jenga, all made from 100% post-consumer recycled fishing nets. 

The company even has a partnership with Patagonia for developing its trademark NetPlus fabric into an exclusive Patagonia line of clothing.

When you buy a product from Bureo, you get the added benefit of knowing that you helped save a seal, or maybe a sea turtle, or possibly an entire coral reef.

Bureo, which means "wave" in the local language of the Mapuche, (the local Indigenous peoples), truly represents the meaning of its "Net Positiva'' project. The sustainable model offers a solution to the harm caused by discarded fishing nets on marine ecosystems. 

The company also gives back to the community by donating funds from their profits to local projects such as recycling centers and educational workshops.

Ben Kneppers, one of the founders of Bureo, takes a grassroots approach when working with fishermen. A native of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, he travels from his home in Cocholgüe, Chile to fishing communities around the country in order to build relationships and explain the benefits of working with Bureo and Net Positiva. He makes sure fishermen are paid for the nets they provide to Bureo, which has earned him respect and trust. 

When talking to Patagonia about paying the fishermen per kilo for returned fishing nets, Kneppers said, "we want to show that this isn't just about the fishermen agreeing to give us the nets. Now we're bringing value to the entire community."

Bureo's Net Positiva is also expanding. In 2019, it partnered with WWF to work with Peru's fishing industry. Patagonia has strengthened its commitment to the NetPlus brand with this statement on its website: "By developing NetPlus material with Bureo, we have supported the collection and recycling of more than 1,000 tons of discarded fishing nets. We will continue to incorporate NetPlus into more Patagonia products over the next few years."

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