Maria Rodriguez |
Dakar (EFE).- Since last October 1, the Plastic Odyssey ship has sailed the seas with an ambitious objective: to end the plastics that reach the ocean and disintegrate into irrecoverable microparticles that contaminate the planet and invade the human food chain.
The ship, which aspires to carry out a three-year expedition stopping in thirty countries of the global south, left that day from the southern French city of Marseille, passed through Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco and since February 14 has anchored in Senegal. , a key place as it was where the idea for this initiative was born in 2016.
“One of the co-founders belonged to the merchant marine and traveled around the world in large ships, and came here to Senegal, where plastic pollution on the coasts marked him and tried to find a way to act,” Morgane explains to EFE. Kerdoncuff, director of the Plastic Odyssey stopover program.
“It is above all on the coasts, on the coasts, where we see marine pollution. What we imagine is that the plastic remains floating (…). In reality, the plastic does not float on the surface, it sinks very quickly and breaks down into microparticles”, says Kerdoncuff from inside the ship, moored at the pier on Gorée Island, in the center of Dakar.
Plastic as wealth
There are thousands of ways to fight against plastics, this project chose to direct its fight particularly towards the training of local entrepreneurs to start profitable businesses based on recycling.
“The objective of the project is to support and disseminate methods that allow plastic waste to be reused on the ground before it evaporates into the environment (…) so that it becomes a resource, wealth and is transformed into a product, preventing it from being spread,” Kerdoncuff says.
To do this, at each scale several entrepreneurs receive training and exchange knowledge and experiences on the recycling of plastic waste that can become pipes, tiles or bricks, but also chairs and tables.
This is the case of Oumar Lamine Diaby, founder of a Malian company dedicated to the recycling and transformation of plastic waste in Bamako, the capital of Mali, and who has traveled to Dakar to receive this training with the aim of improving and diversifying his products.
“The raw material costs a lot and in Mali there is a lot of plastic. The most logical thing is to recycle and sell the cheapest products,” this businessman, one of the thirteen entrepreneurs who received training in Dakar and who found an offer to participate in the Linkedin social network, told EFE.
During the month of stopover in Senegal, where the project has received “a very warm welcome”, the team will also travel to the interior of the country to visit and discover local initiatives related to the recycling of plastic waste.
The equivalent of a bank card
The ship will also be visited by schoolchildren to raise awareness about this problem, which means that some nineteen tons of plastic are dumped on the planet every minute and that every week an individual ingests the equivalent of a plastic bank card, warns Kerdoncuff.
The choice to do the expedition by boat is not fortuitous: it has less environmental impact than by plane, it can transport all the machines with which they carry out the training sessions, as well as the exhibition they display in each place, and it is more visually attractive.
In addition, the boat, whose furniture, such as tables and chairs, is made from recycled plastic, is a demonstration of what is possible.
From Africa to Latin America and Asia
After Senegal, the Plastic Odyssey will make a stopover in Guinea-Conakry and Cape Verde and then will head towards South and Central America, where it will stop in a dozen countries and then continue its route to Asia, returning in 2025 to France via South Africa.
The expedition takes place in the countries of the South because they are among those that emit the most plastics into the oceans, since they are not equipped with recycling infrastructures on a national scale, but also because there are entrepreneurs who develop solutions with great ingenuity and pragmatism.
In this sense, Kerdoncuff assures that in the five months that they have been traveling the feeling is one of “hope”.
“There are solutions -he concludes- and if everyone manages to put themselves, let’s say at their own scale and in their own way, in the line of reducing this plastic pollution and developing solutions that allow us to get out of it, we will achieve it”.