In view of ongoing challenges, redeem centres for glass bottles and aluminium cans in Seychelles will be back in operation on March 20, a little later than usual, said a top government official on Tuesday.
There are six main redeem centres in Seychelles where collectors deposit their cans and PET bottles. Four are on Mahe, the main island, and one each on Praslin and La Digue, the second and third most populated islands.
The principal secretary in the Department of Environment, Denis Matatiken, told reporters that last year, the environmental authorities "decided to close the exchange period in November rather than the habitual December due to challenges that were beyond our control."
These centres are the only consistent points of collection for PET and aluminium cans and glass bottles as there are no specific services for the collection in the island nation.
Matatiken said that "last year there were shipping lines that were refusing to take the plastic bottles despite the plastics being shredded at the redeem centres."
He said that with help from the recycler at the ministry level, this has allowed the centres to re-open their doors although a bit later than usual.
"We helped the recycler send around 10 shipping containers of PET bottles to Vietnam, and we are still in negotiations to help them export some more," he elaborated.
One of the countries where Seychelles exported its recycled PET bottles was Ukraine; an option that the authorities had to re-think due to the ongoing conflict.
"We have found other countries such as Germany as well as Vietnam," said Matatiken.
Faced with these challenges, since closing last year, the redeem centres have not yet re-opened their doors while the ministry works to iron out the issues it is facing exporting the shredded PET plastics.
"There are shipping companies that have made these declarations on the international scene that they will no longer be accepting empty PET bottles. Which is why, we as a country will have to re-think our position where they are concerned - with a lot of consultations with those concerned," he said.
Meanwhile, as of March 20, people will be able to bring in their cans and glass bottles for recycling.
"The information as to when the redeem centres will re-open will be available on the media and through sensitisation programmes," said Landscape and Waste Management Agency (LWMA), deputy CEO, Rahoul Mangroo.
LWMA is a state company managing the collection of waste on the main inhabited islands of the archipelago.
People on the three main islands of Seychelles, namely Mahe, Praslin and La Digue, will have to book an appointment with the redeem centres before they can bring in their glass and aluminium cans.
"This is so that no-one wastes their time in the process and so that the redeem centres may also evaluate how much space they have available before taking in new cans and bottles," he added.
Seychelles is a country whose economy is largely reliant on tourism, with its key selling point being its pristine environment.
In a bid to encourage recycling and minimise the amount of waste in the Seychelles' landfills, a deposit of $0.10, or SCR2, has been applied to glass bottles of alcoholic beverages entering the country since January 2021.
The scheme was introduced, as part of the government's plan to encourage the public to redeem their glass bottles after use instead of throwing them in the trash or into the environment.