The Future of Plastic Waste coordinator, Seychelles
Born in 1960 in Essen, a Krupp town in Germany, Katrin PERCHAT pursued a career in the airline industry in Germany with Air France and then in France with RM Rocade and Sabre Arline Solutions, where she was Executive Director France and then Sales Director for the EMEA zone. In the Seychelles, she proposed in 2020, in partnership with a Blue Economy Consultant, first at IRD and then at the Blue Economy Department, a plastic waste management project which was approved the same year. She is the coordinator of The Future Of Plastic Waste Seychelles (TFOPW) project and is currently the lead on the three projects initiated by the TFOPW project in Seychelles.
Katrin, coming from a completely different background, what led you to work on plastic pollution?
I made this career change at a time when I felt that my work was not meaningful in the light of the big changes that were about to take place in the world. With the help of a coach, I realised that I needed to contribute to the world's transition towards greater social and environmental equity. I also understood that my generation was responsible for the impasse it is currently in because of its level of consumption in general, and in particular its consumption of fossil fuels.
Already in 1989, I asked the director of the IFO Institute for Economic Research in Munich: "Is your institute initiating the thinking of a finite world versus a maxim of infinite growth? The answer was an overwhelming "NO" although he admitted that the question was interesting.
Plastic pollution on the beach, Comoros @ Nourddine Mirhani
Why is the issue of plastic important for the Seychelles?
First of all, our Seychelles islands live mainly from fishing (industrial and artisanal) and tourism. These two pillars of the economy are directly affected by the plastic waste that ends up in the rivers and waters that eventually reach the ocean.
In figures: 44 kg per capita is the estimated annual consumption of plastic in Seychelles based on a year 2014 during which 232,000 tourists visited the country, almost half of the arrivals in 2019, the pre-pandemic year. Plastic consumption is growing due to two factors: the increasing income of Seychellois and therefore their greater consumption, and the increasing number of tourists.
Yet there is no organised management of recyclable materials in Seychelles today and plastic pollution is becoming an increasing problem for all of us. In addition to the economic difficulties that unmanaged plastic problems can cause, it is essential that we address the problem as we know the deleterious effects on natural habitats and the preservation of biodiversity.
The Futur Of Plastic Waste addresses this complex issue as our three projects focus on the three identified areas for tackling plastic pollution:
- Education of society, through diversified communication,
- The collection of waste, integrating all the actors of the problem, including the informal sector,
- The transformation of plastic waste in an artisanal way with a "maker hub" opening the doors to young people or other potential entrepreneurs to learn about the transformation of recyclable plastics and benefit from support to identify the financial and economic levers.
In the framework of the TFO, you worked with youth associations, can you tell us a bit more about that?
Working with young people concerned by social and environmental issues was part of our project from the start. It also seemed important to us to give them the benefit of an increase in skills via the TFO methodology.
For several years I have been observing young Seychellois people involved in climate change or plastic issues, through social networks or through their activities in various associations or government services. They had ideal profiles for TFO Plastic Waste so I contacted them at the very beginning of the project.
It was a real pleasure, and still is, to work with them: they are full of talent, they are used to working in a team and also in transversality. These skills are very useful for the three TFO projects which are connected and which must evolve together. Their participation means that they have benefited from this methodology, which they can now use for other issues and launch other projects.
Workshop to define the thematic TFO Oct.20 Seychelles @K.Perchat