ISS students learn about plastic waste and solutions |23 November 2022
The impacts of plastic waste and pollution on the environment and marine life and the efforts to address the problem in Seychelles are but some of the important issues which Eco-club students from the International School Seychelles (ISS) had the opportunity to learn about, through a presentation yesterday.
Sponsored by the Monaco Explorations, a scientific expedition which took place within the Western Indian Ocean with a stopover in Seychelles in October, the presentation was facilitated by coordinator of the Future of Plastic Waste (TFOPW) in Seychelles project, Katrin Perchat of Yes Consulting, and project manager of Connect-Collect Victoria Alis.
Through the interactive session, the students had the opportunity to learn about three specific but interconnected projects falling under the umbrella of the Future of Plastic Waste, namely, a sensitisation campaign, Connect-Collect, and a third which comprises a recycling machine. In addition, they also had the chance to share their concerns, and the actions which they are engaged in to reduce plastic pollution.
“A lot of people do not know much about plastics; they have no idea how the world is plastified nowadays, and how we, as consumers in our day-to-day lives, are dependent on plastics, and how it is especially difficult to find alternatives, especially if they have limited budgets,” Ms Perchat said.
“It comes from scientists, all the data as to how much plastics is there and what it does in the natural habitat, the environmental threats and threats to the economy, all of this information is not necessarily available to the general public, so the project with the awareness campaign will actually bundle this, and make the information attractive, and accessible for the general public, so that everybody understands why we need to do something about plastics,” Ms Perchat noted.
Plastic accumulating in oceans has become a global crisis, with plastic waste found in rivers, coasts and mountains, sea ice, on the ocean’s surface and even in the food chain. With economic, social, ecological and health implications, the problem needs to be addressed urgently.
As explained by Ms Alis, Seychelles is heavily reliant on imported plastic products and consumes an estimated 44 kilogrammes of plastic per capita annually. Over the past fifteen years, there has been an increase of almost 100 percent in waste going to the landfill, the main method of waste management.
Considering the reliance on plastics, coupled with limited recycling facilities and capacities, limited funding and limited understanding or plastic waste, studies conducted on outer islands such as Alphonse and Aldabra indicate a large number of plastic debris on their shores. A whopping 25 tonnes of waste was collected during the Aldabra clean-up project, which comprised 83 percent fishing gears, and 7 percent flip flops.
Project TFOPW is supported by the Blue Economy department, French start-up SoScience, as well as the French National Institute for Research for Sustainable Development (IRD). It seeks to tackle plastic waste challenges by raising awareness, collecting and recycling plastics, while introducing a new management system which actively engages participation of key members from community in project development to ensure a long-term functioning system.
Asides from the sensitisation campaign, Connect Collect is the project component which investigates the economic possibilities of collecting recyclable waste, the existing sources of plastic waste generation, and to ultimately digitise waste management in Seychelles. Ms Alis noted that the commercial, industrial and institutional waste accounts for 52 percent of all waste, while municipal waste accounts for 23 percent.
With the lack of facilities offering artisans and entrepreneurs a space to work with post-consumer plastics, the recycling machine component to the project aims to facilitate the transformation of such plastics into saleable products, through user-friendly machinery. Inspired by global community project ‘Precious Plastics’, the project will create a space for entrepreneurs, artisans and individuals to explore the use of post-consumer plastic as a resource for useful and attractive recycled products, towards the creation of new income opportunities for the target community.
“If you consider that plastic comes from natural gas and petrol in the first place and these are costly raw materials, it is considerate to do something with it, to repurpose these plastic items rather than throw them in the natural environment where they cause so many problems, and threats,” Ms Perchat said.
“Seychelles needs to diversify its portfolio of opportunities for youngsters. Traditionally it was the fisheries and tourism industries, but it is important that there is a new chapter, and recycling and plastic recycling could be a part of this new chapter among technology and innovation,” Ms Perchat added.
Students of the eco-club were able to board and tour the S.A. Agulhas II vessel which hosted the Monaco Explorations teams on the expedition, in early November.