For many people, a glut of plastic bottles floating in a lagoon would be negative. For entrepreneur Eric Becker, it sparked an idea for a business opportunity.
Among the litter, he had a vision to build a holiday destination with swimming pools, bars and relaxation areas.
Becker initially moved to the Côte d’Ivoire with a plan to set up a catamaran business. It took him six years to build the island resort from plastic bottles, he told Reuters. The result floats on 700,000 bottles packed into boxes in the middle of Abidjan’s lagoon, with a hotel that opened in 2018.
“Little by little, my idea of building a travel boat turned into how to build a system,” Becker says.
Around 100 guests visit the island each week, with most coming on weekends. While the destination has solar panels for electricity, water has to be pumped in from the land because the lagoon is too polluted.
Becker’s work underscores the importance of finding innovative ways to tackle the volume of plastic in the environment. The challenges presented by single-use plastics are now well known, with roughly a truckload dumped into the ocean every minute. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation shows even regions with the highest recycling rates only manage to recycle around half their packaging.
The project showcases how plastic can repurposed and used in innovative ways.
“It is a beautiful project and I think in future there will be several floating islands like this one,” says Becker. “We could have floating islands all over Côte d’Ivoire and that would be great for us.”
This article was first published by the World Economic Forum.