Chile y los desechos de plástico en el mar que recolecta para reciclado

2 min de lectura

En Chile los desechos de plásticos en los miles de kilómetros de costa son un trastorno. Ben Kneppers siente afinidad con el océano. Y es el ideólogo del programa oficial que ofrece pagos a los pescadores que recolectan estas islas de basura, cada vez más frecuente en nuestros océanos.

Kneppers se radicó en Chile debido a su carrera laboral. Y se asoció con dos amigos, David Stover y Kevin Ahearn, a quienes conoció en Australia. Llamaron a su empresa Bureo, que significa “las olas” en idioma mapuche.

Una vez que recibieron fondos del acelerador, Stover y Ahearn se mudaron a Chile para poner en marcha el programa de recolección y reciclaje de redes de Bureo, “Net Positiva”. En seis meses, se recolectaron más de 6,600 libras de redes de pesca abandonadas. Y las reciclaron en la primera plataforma de skate (en forma de pez), llamada “The Minnow”, que se fabricaron a partir de los restos reciclados.

Ben Kneppers está formado en ingeniería mecánica, pero trabajaba como consultor ambiental (especializado en análisis del ciclo de los productos y efectos en el medio ambiente). David Stover es también ingeniero mecánico, pero con empleo de consultor financiero. Ellos junto a Kevin Ahearn comparten interés por los deportes, especialmente el surf, y la preocupación ambiental.

En 2012, Kneppers se mudó a Chile para trabajar. Cuando escuchó que un programa financiado por el gobierno chileno buscaba empresas sostenibles para financiar, recordó sus charlas con los amigos. “A pesar de la pesadumbre y la tristeza que sufrimos con la contaminación del océano, pensé que probablemente era realmente una solución”, dice Kneppers.

Entrevistó a pescadores, inspeccionó la infraestructura costera y estudió el comportamiento y el diseño. ¿Su conclusión? “Los residuos son un defecto de diseño”, explica Kneppers. “Si diseñamos algo utilizando un modelo circular, podríamos resolver el problema que creamos”.

En otras palabras, ¿qué pasaría si los pescadores locales pudieran recibir pagos por la recolección de desechos de plástico? ¿Qué pasa si no solo se pesca fuera del agua sino que se transforma en algo de valor?

Kneppers recordó su infancia y cómo su preciada posesión era una patineta. Tomaría dos libras de plástico para producir uno, pero podría venderse por alrededor de cien dólares. Ese volumen de plástico podría obtenerse fácilmente de redes de pesca descartadas, que representan más del 10 por ciento de la contaminación oceánica del mundo.

La idea comenzó a ser realidad

Hoy, Net Positiva opera en docenas de pueblos en todo Chile. Solo en 2017, rescató más de 185.000 libras de redes del océano. La fabricación de los skates fueron solo el comienzo. Bureo ahora hace gafas de sol, aletas de surf y Frisbees. Una asociación con Pokenobe Enterprises, el creador y propietario de Jenga, condujo al primer juego de tablero del mundo hecho con redes de pesca, 100 por ciento recicladas.

El cantante y ecologista Jack Johnson es fan de empresa y un gran vendedor de los productos Bureo en sus conciertos. También lo es el minorista al aire libre Patagonia. Su fondo de capital riesgo corporativo, Tin Shed Ventures, ahora es un inversor. Y Net Positiva goza de un amplio apoyo en los pueblos chilenos donde opera. Aunque algunas grandes operaciones pesqueras ahora donan sus redes, Bureo toma el dinero que habría pagado a los pescadores para recuperarlos y lo invierte en proyectos comunitarios locales como sistemas mejorados de manejo de desechos.

Están en marcha programas piloto para capturar redes de pesca en la costa del Pacífico. Dentro de diez años, Kneppers espera que Bureo sea una entidad global. “Soy el tipo soñador”, dice, “siempre pensando en la siguiente idea loca”.

Fiesta del Espumante y Vinos de Curicó

,
34 segundos de lectura

Shawn Mendes actuará en Chile a fines de 2019

,
26 segundos de lectura

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