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BEHAVIOR change Cornwall

Team Recycle Nets and Plastic from Cornwall’s Coast

14th April 2023

A young Cornish team based in Looe is finding new ways to recycle plastic pollution they gather from Cornwall’s coasts to ensure the plastic never re-enters the sea. 

The team at Behaviour Change Cornwall, headed by Founder Sam Gill, 27, have found new ways of repurposing and recycling different type of plastic commonly found on our shores into everything from coasters, to beaded jewellery and recycled fishing net bracelets.

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Sam, “We turn traditional recycling on its head – starting from what we find and designing the product around this materials strengths and appeal. It means our products are the exact opposite of mass-produced. No two can ever be exactly alike as they are made from a mix of plastics and nets never able to be replicated. You couldn’t make our items from virgin plastic if you tried haha… The hope is by giving our ocean plastic a new purpose as one of our products, we can turn the problem into part of the solution; funding further clean up and recycling with what we manage to raise this way”.

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Behaviour Change Cornwall. Sam Gill and Melissa Carne at Tregantle beach.

Sam, “On Cornwall’s coasts we’ve found over the last 5 years, over 70% of the plastic we recover is lost or discarded fishing nets and gear, so called ‘ghost nets and gear’ which persist for hundreds of years. This stuff is designed to kill & is still lethal for wildlife whilst it lives its second life – lost haunting the ocean”.

Sam and his team hope that by transforming this fishing gear and other ocean plastic into products that they can ensure this plastic never enters the sea again. They make a range of jewellery and homeware – showcasing how ocean plastic can be repurposed and become a valued resource rather than a persistent pollutant– which is key to making our oceans healthier and marine wildlife safer.

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The plastics are recovered all around Cornwall (but Sam tells me they’ve even worked on plastics recovered from as far afield as chilly Greenland, sunny Spain and closer to home along the wet Welsh and Scottish coasts).

All the plastics however are sorted, cleaned and recycled in Looe, Cornwall and are certified Made in Cornwall & showcased as Shop Cornish as a result. Because they work with so many different ocean plastics each batch is a unique blend of different colours that can’t be replicated. Keeping to this artisan ethos the batches are limited – as using only found material means they never know how many of, or what they will make next, as a product.

Sam explained, “Each product is named after the beach or location the ocean plastic was found at We think its super important that every piece of plastic is traced from the moment we recover it to the moment our customers receive it as a finished creation.

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This means we can record where and what plastic is being gathered and by who and the carbon/economic value generated by this”.

Sam, “By tracing and sharing what we find and where with scientists and other organisations is another way we can help end the ocean plastic crisis as surprisingly very little is known about the specific properties and dynamics of plastic pollution in our oceans and by helping others to understand the problem, we do our part in solving it forever”.

Sam and his team are encouraged by the people he meets out cleaning our coast, saying “it’s amazing how many are out there each day doing there bit picking up plastic from our shore. Some people scoff, but we think its incredible the everyday dog-walkers, sea-swimmers and beach goers we see hauling plastic off the beach. When we find piles pulled up we always take them and recycle all that can be”.

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Behaviour Change Cornwall. Sam Gill and Melissa Carne at Tregantle beach.

Sam summed up their aims as “…our part to play is recovering from the remote parts of the coast that cant be accessed easily and finding new ways to turn all of this plastic back into something useful ”.

Find out more about Behaviour Change Cornwall’s mission on their website and get the perfect Cornish Gift with 10% OFF. Use code SHOPCORNISH.