Situated in the middle of a lagoon in Abidjan is a resort unlike no other in Africa or anywhere else in the world; – L’île Flottante, french for “floating island” is an eco-resort floating on plastics. French entrepreneur, Eric Becker had a different plan when he initially moved to Côte d’Ivoire in 2012; it was to build a travel boat, a catamaran, with discarded plastic bottles. But he soon changed his mind when he saw the lagoon in Abidjan.
Becker decided to build a resort instead, complete with rooms, a restaurant, a bar, swimming pools, and areas for relaxation. L’île Flottante opened in 2018 after six years of construction. It weighs about 200 tonnes and sits atop 700,000 waste plastic bottles packed in boxes. The resort is powered by solar energy and gets clean water pumped in from the mainland.
Each week, about a hundred people visit the resort, paying between $25 to $100 depending on the kind of service they choose to get. L’île Flottante demonstrates an innovative approach to plastic recycling, something more people should think more about. It is Becker’s way of tackling the global menace of plastic pollution while promoting eco-tourism.
“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 Ivory Coast and that would be great for us.”
Each year, the world produces well over 300 million tonnes of plastic, only nine percent of that is recycled. The rest are clogging drainages, filling landfills, and competing for space with marine life in the ocean. The implication of this is severe health and financial costs for humans, animals and countries across the globe.
Abidjan generates 288 tonnes of plastic waste daily but only recycles five percent of that waste, according to UNICEF. Indigenous private recycling companies like Coliba are to thank for even that meagre percentage of recycling taking place.
Like Eric Becker, UNICEF has also come up with an innovative approach to tackle plastic pollution in Côte d’Ivoire. The organization is partnering with a Colombian social enterprise to set up an innovative plastic brick making factory in the country where plastic waste will be converted into modular plastic bricks that will be used to build classrooms for Ivorian children.