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Plastic Odyssey will leave the port of Marseille, in the south of France, on October 1 for a three-year expedition. Its main objective is to find ways to reduce marine plastic pollution in the 30 countries most affected by this problem in Africa, Southeast Asia and South America.
The Plastic Odyssey project dates back to 2016 when Simon Bernard, a merchant marine officer, was in Dakar, in one of the most polluted areas of the city.
“I realized there was a lot of ingenuity in the country. People there could recycle everything, aluminum, cans, everything except plastic.
“The idea started from there, to think about the best solution to help people earn a living and create jobs locally by turning this waste into a resource,” Simon Bernard told RFI.
Every minute, 19 tons of plastic pour into the ocean, the equivalent of a garbage truck.
“The problem with marine pollution is not to clean up the ocean because once the plastic is in the sea, it’s too late. You have to act just before it ends up in the ocean,” says Bernard, CEO and co-founder of Plastic Odyssey.
A study has shown that 80% of plastic waste polluting the oceans comes from the coastal areas of developing countries.
The problem is found elsewhere, in low- and middle-income countries in Africa, Southeast Asia and South America. And they have no waste management facilities.
“This waste accumulates in illegal landfills and ends up in the ocean at the first gust of wind.”
Plastic waste recycling
Plastic Odyssey aims to train 300 entrepreneurs who will be inspired to recycle plastic into useful objects, such as paving stones and pipes, using simple and robust machines, the plans of which are available in open source. There is also a system using non-recyclable waste to produce energy or fuel.
Entrepreneurs will also be trained to set up recycling micro-factories.
“In each country, we launch calls for applications and select around ten entrepreneurs who wish to launch their waste collection centre.
“We invite them on board for a fortnight and we incubate them, bring them knowledge and above all put them in touch with local actors who can be investors, potential partners or customers, who will help them create this business. and make it work. “, explains Bernard.
In addition to recycling, Plastic Odyssey will run awareness campaigns in each port to help reduce everyday plastic consumption.
The expedition includes 30 stopovers that will last three weeks each. On board the 40-meter ship are 10 sailors, accompanied by engineers, reporters and volunteers.
The boat will set sail on Saturday October 1 from the port of Marseille with a first stopover in Beirut, Lebanon, in mid-October.