Schneider Electric Is Making Light Switches Out of Used Fishing Nets

Schneider Electric Is Making Light Switches Out of Used Fishing Nets
Image: Schneider Electric

Schneider Electric is focusing a lot on sustainability at CES 2022, revealing home products designed from recycled fishing nets.

Schneider Electric is using recycled fishing nets to create switches and sockets for the home, effectively giving the materials a second purpose without them needing to pile up as ocean garbage. Sustainability is a pretty big focus of Schneider Electric, so this innovation comes as no surprise.

Fishing nets are typically made out of synthetic fibres like nylon or braided polymer. These materials are quite durable, which make them both perfect for fishing and also not so great if left in the ocean. In fact, abandoned fishing equipment makes up about 10 per cent of plastic waste in the ocean, weighing in at several hundred thousand tonnes. That’s where Schneider Electric reckons it can do something and power upcycling.

“The challenge of weaning the world from our addiction to plastic waste might seem impossible,” says YiFu Qi, the executive vice president of global home and distribution at Schneider Electric. “But change is possible – and it begins at home.

“We hope to pave the way for even more sustainable innovations in the electrical solutions industry and spark inspiration and innovation for years to come.”

Schneider Electric’s sustainable sockets and switches are made from polyamide fishing nets, found in the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. The company says it’s a step in the right direction for creating a world where there isn’t any recyclable material and for empowering customers to make their own choices. It’s also a way in which Schneider Electric is hoping to achieve net-zero (note: this may be a pun).

The company claims that its switches, frames and sockets made from nets don’t compromise durability and style, while remaining strong enough to last a long while. It has even become an honouree Sustainability Category award winner at this year’s CES, along with other innovations from Schneider Electric.

In gathering the fishing nets, Schneider Electric has partnered with DSM, which itself collaborates with local communities to gather dumped fishing nets. DSM then recycles the fishing nets itself, converting them into an Akulon Repurposed compound. This long-lasting material has a significantly lower carbon footprint than the original netting material (by about 82 per cent), so it’s considerably better for the environment, the companies say.

“Tackling the global challenge of ocean plastics will require our entire industry to step up and find innovative solutions to drive a circular transformation,” says Helen Mets, the executive vice president of materials at DSM. “Together, we can create demand for re-used plastics and help find a second home for discarded recyclable materials.”

We don’t know when Schneider’s Merten Ocean Plastic switches, frames and sockets will be available to the public, but we can imagine an announcement sometime soon.