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African solution to plastic bottle waste

Here at UKVending we care about our environment and the wider environment of the planet. Core to our business is our commitment to recycling and we love it when we hear of new, creative, and innovative solutions to plastic pollution. The latest news comes all the way from the Cameroon.

Around the world 1 million plastic bottles are sold every single minute and 90 percent of those are not recycled, simply discarded uselessly and harmfully endangering the planet. So, it cheered out hearts when we hard about young Cameroon entrepreneur Ismael Essome Ebone, who has taken a product no one wants and turned it into something people need. In this case a ‘bottle-boat’ which will help redefine fishing methods in the Kibri region of Cameroon.

Each canoe is made from 1000 discarded plastic bottles and can carry three people up to a total weight of 270 kg or 595 lbs. 

Ismaël’s actions are based on the circular economy model, with the aim of reusing and recycling all the waste that pollutes the towns and cities in Cameroon, in order to ensure the conservation of nature and its biodiversity.

The idea of designing a boat made from recovered and recycled plastic bottles came to Ismaël in 2011, when the student was forced to take shelter from heavy rain and observed plastic bottles floating past. He began by gathering 1,000 plastic bottles collected in the drains of Douala, the financial capital of Cameroon, and assembled them into blocks of ten connected by wire. This enables the finished structure to flex like a caterpillar with the motion of the waves. To make an entire boat takes about a week.

Aside from helping the environment they also provide locals with seaworthy vessels for fishing.

“There is a real lack of canoes for fishing here. Many young people would like to fish but it’s too expensive. The wooden canoe costs between 150 and 450…750 euros. We can promote and recycle these canoes for use in simple fishing activities and encourage young people to get into the fishing industry.” Said Ismaël.

And the bottle boat is no laughing matter, either — the innovation has impressed even the most seasoned of fishermen, with one saying, “The boat is well made. It looks good. In the beginning we thought it was a joke, but then we realised it’s a seaworthy vessel. It’s a good, strong boat.”

While there’s a need for strong and seaworthy fishing boats in the Kibri region, Ismaël isn’t stoping there. The 27-year-old also makes beds, furniture and tourist holiday homes from discarded and cleaned bottles. However, Ismaël’s ultimate goal is to create a system that enables vulnerable people in Africa to make use of waste products to build homes.

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