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Interview: Yvan Bourgnon, founder of The SeaCleaners
Swiss-sailor Yvan Bourgnon and his association The SeaCleaners are fighting against plastic waste in the ocean. Their big project is to navigate on "Manta", the first world deep-sea boat that will collect plastic waste. The Explorers talked to Yvan to get a better understanding of his project: The Explorers: The motto of The Explorers is "Know better to protect better". The SeaCleaners seems to be joining this idea. Can you introduce your association, please? Yvan Bourgnon: The association was created in 2016 to cut plastic waste in the oceans. In the 1980's, I did a world tour with my parents. The oceans were perfectly clean. Thirty-three years later, I have done the same tour around the world, and the oceans were completely contaminated. I told myself: there is something to do. The SeaCleaners is known for the boats we are creating, but we have been working from the beginning on other topics: awareness education and circular economy development in emerging countries. T.E: You interact on many levels to reduce the amount of plastic waste in the ocean. What about the boats you want to create? Y.B: We have come a long way on the first boat. Manta is a giant catamaran able to collect plastics in large quantities. The idea is to post it in the estuaries of major rivers. It is a catamaran that allows the plastics to pass between the hulls. Plastics will be trapped naturally using treadmills that bend and carry the plastics inside the boat. The plastics processing is done directly inside. The wood and algae go back to the sea directly. The plastic will be retained by operators inside and it will go in two directions: compacting for recyclable plastics, but it will be in very small quantities. These plastics will eventually be sent to land. The majority of the plastics will be pyrolyzed. It is an oven that will melt the plastic at high temperatures to restore it to its original state, which is oil. This oil will be our energy on board. It takes energy for propulsion, to feed the 36 people on board, for air conditioning. It is a virtuous energy because it does not release CO2 into the atmosphere. The boat is completely autonomous and does not need to return to the ground. T.E: When is its launch planned? Y.B: The launch is scheduled for 2023. For the first trip, we would like to go to Southeast Asia. Ultimately, we would like countries and communities to own this type of boat. We are aiming for the creation of about 100 boats on an international scale. We are an association that aims to develop a technology and put it in "open-source". Some countries like China and Indonesia have shown interest in this kind of technology to fight plastic waste. Photo credit: Xavier Bouquin
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