Grinning, Kyle de Bouter displays a pair of Patagonia board shorts fashioned from recycled fishing nets while nearby labourers cut used nylon nets into seven-foot-square, one-ton bales.
He states, “This is 100% what it’s all about,” highlighting potential future product uses.
Brikole, a new “circular business” founded by Bouter, recycles abandoned nets from the commercial tuna fishing sector. He saw the nets piled up at this capital city’s main port and realised that he could make a living by recycling the trash, which would also help to reduce waste and create jobs. His dream was to work with Seychellois to make goods out of the nets, like board shorts, bags, and hammocks.
Although the United Nations and other organizations are having some success encouraging big corporations in developed nations to pursue sustainability objectives, small and medium-sized enterprises in developing nations play a critical role but are frequently disregarded. Studies show that although small businesses account for 90% or more of all commercial activity and employ most people globally, they are typically less environmentally conscious. Only 7.2% of used materials are recycled back into the global economy, according to the UN, down from 9.1% in 2018.
Even with a small, straightforward business, we wanted to generate as much economic activity for the Seychelles as we could, de Bouter told CNN.
With a population of about 100,000, the Seychelles is a small country in the Indian Ocean with an archipelago of 115 islands that spans 1.3 million square kilometers of marine territory. Leaders and organizations in the Seychelles are always searching for methods to combat climate change and promote growth on their islands. Many people in the Seychelles think that those industries are a good place to start because the region is excellent for fishing, particularly tuna fishing.
Discovering a benefit overall
The waters of the Seychelles are fished by about 48 tuna ships from various nations, such as South Korea, Spain, and France. These ships use enormous nets to catch over 400,000 metric tonnes of tuna annually, which are then unloaded at a factory in the Victoria port for canning. The only industry that contributes more to GDP than tuna is tourism. According to researchers and government sources, the tuna industry accounts for roughly 68% of all exports and more than 5% of GDP.
At the shipyards, the mile-long nylon nets, which eventually wear out, piled up and produced litter.
An idea for the blue economy
The World Bank defines the “blue economy” as the “sustainable use of ocean resources to benefit economies, livelihoods, and ocean ecosystem health.” The Seychelles are adopting this concept in light of their location. According to UN estimates, the blue economy supports over 30 million jobs and provides food for over 3 billion people annually, with a global value of over $1.5 trillion.
The government of Seychelles maintains a “Department of Blue Economy” with roadmaps to direct the development and usage of the ocean. Due to their reliance on the ocean for survival, small island nations like the Seychelles are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, including rising sea levels, shifting rainfall patterns, and acid damage to coral reefs.
Proponents of circular economy business models assert that the strategy encourages small nations and sectors to develop more sustainably and creatively.