Informal can, bottle collectors play helpful role in keeping Seychelles clean, official says

People who collect plastic bottles and cans from the street play an important role in keeping the environment in Seychelles clean, the principal secretary for environment says.

The collectors can be seen going around the main island Mahe picking up all PET bottles and cans dumped in bins across the island nation and at various places where people have thrown them in the environment.

The principal secretary for environment, Alain Decommarmond, said that the street collectors are very important for Seychelles.

We have quite a number of collectors going around in the community and street corners to pick up the waste PET bottles and metal cans that we dump in the environment, said Decommarmond.

He said that these collectors should be seen as an integral part of the collecting system because they also help to reduce the amount of waste materials deposited in the landfill.

According to the Landscape and Waste Management Agency, a state company managing the collection of waste on the main inhabited islands of the archipelago, last year a total of 70,000 tonnes of waste was deposited at the main landfill at Providence, on the eastern coast of the main island. This represents 80 percent of the total amount of waste produced by the Seychellois population. The remaining 20 percent -- plastic bottles and scrap metal -- are recycled.

Decommarmond believes that the government should put in place incentives to support this informal sector as people engagement towards the environment is always crucial.

Nicol Henri, a street collector, said his main reason to collect PET is to get money food and for drugs as he is an addict. He starts at 5 a.m. every day and collects around the capital, Victoria.

I am a homeless person. Collecting PET and cans from municipal waste is my only way to earn an income, said Henri.

Henri said there are about 15 young people doing the collection in Victoria only and they are paid around $22 (SCR300) per day, but close to the end of the month the amount can go up to $52 (SCR700).

The principal secretary for environment said that while this form of collection is keeping the environment clean, it also has its downsides that needs to be addressed.

It might also hurt the tourism industry as it is unpleasant for tourists to see people digging through garbage for collection, said Decommarmond.

At present, hotels, bin sites and businesses are the only consistent point of collection for PET and aluminium cans as there are no specific services for the collection.

There are five main redeem centres in the 115-island archipelago, where collectors deposit their cans and PET bottles. Three are on Mahe, and one each on Praslin and La Digue, the second and third most populated island respectively.

Alvin Leste, who buys PET bottles and metal cans from street collectors, said that the collection is a lucrative business.

I sell it every year to the redeem centres and I normally get $7400, (SCR 100,000). However it takes a lot of bottles to get this load of money, said Leste.

Some locals see another benefit with the collection of PET bottles and cans.

Since the arrival of the informal collectors, which is mostly done by drug users, thieving has reduced in the country, said a local citizen, Sheryl Athanase.

She added that however, they should be given gloves, masks and t-shirts for hygiene and identification purpose.

Source: Seychelles News Agency

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