The Risacca Project aims to turn the oceans’ garbage patches filled with plastic pollution into more than a dystopian memory. They’re using recycled nets recovered from the ocean to create ethical fashion. In fact, they’re giving you the opportunity to visit their lab and create your own upcycled products with their machines.

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A man wearing a white shirt, his back facing you, wearing a mesh teal drawstring backpack

The idea: to recover more and more plastic and turn it into everything from pens to outdoor furniture. The dream is to start in Periferica, a cultural park in Mazara, but then create new centers in every Italian port.

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A person wearing a white lab coat and white gloves holding a teal net

Half the waste in garbage patches like those discovered in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans are from fishing nets abandoned at sea.

“With a ton of net, you can get 200 chairs, 2,000 covers, 10,000 buttons and many other objects that are part of our daily life,” the team said. “But to do this, three ingredients are needed: a team of experts, a participatory community and a laboratory.”

A drawn diagram of inside a plastic recycling workspace insides an area to sort, stock, create and a ventilation ceiling

The Risacca Project wanted to create the first lab specialized in the recycling and reuse of fishing nets in Mazara del Vallo, Sicily. The location is where the designers are from and many fishermen use these kinds of nets. The founding team set out to create a “social tailoring and recycling center where artisans and operators will be able to take care of all phases of product regeneration.”

A large white shipping container that reads Plastic Recycling Workspace

Products available through Kickstarter for supporting the Risacca Project include a shopping bag, 3D tile, clutch bag, Undertow recovered mesh bag and a rattan pot that looks like a purse made in the style of a lobster trap. You can also make your own products in the lab with the expertise of the design team on loan.

Two men stand behind a woman and each person is holding a fish net

The founding team is made up of three professionals with backgrounds in design, regeneration and impact. They are based in Mazara, which is a historic fishing port. Mazara has been experiencing a recent crisis of unemployment and generational aging out of the working population, so the team wanted to create an innovative way to generate jobs while protecting the environment.

“In Mazara, every year more than 10 tons of fishing nets are discarded whose disposal costs weigh on the economies of fishermen, who are sometimes forced to resort to illegal methods of disposal,” said the team. “Through the laboratory, we will be able to recover tons of nets and generate an impact for the community.”

+ Project Risacca

Images via Project Risacca