Simon Bernard is saving the ocean from plastic pollution

Simon Bernard, a young French merchant navy officer is saving the ocean from plastic pollution

90% of marine pollution comes from coastal towns in 32 countries. If we recycled half of this waste, we would reduce future pollution of the sea by 45%. In the light of this observation, Simon Bernard, a young French merchant navy officer, had a crazy idea − a round the world trip with a demonstrator vessel used as a plastic recycling ambassador, to prevent plastic ending up in the ocean. Plastic Odyssey was born.

Every minute twenty tons of plastic end up in the sea. Once it has broken down into microparticles, plastic becomes quickly unrecoverable. In Simon’s opinion, we need to clean up what we can, but above all we need to take action upstream. “During a stopover in Dakar in 2016, not only was I struck by the plastic pollution in the cities, but I was impressed by people’s ingenuity and the ubiquitous culture of plastic recycling. I kept telling myself that if plastic recycling technologies, reserved for only a few specialists today, were to be democratized, not only would this pollution disappear, but thousands of jobs would be created.”

Today, this lifelong enthusiast of the circular economy who is responsive to social entrepreneurship has become CEO of Plastic Odyssey. It is a crazy adventure that he has been preparing since 2018 with two of his friends − Alexandre Dechelotte, also a merchant navy officer, and Bob Vrignaud, an R&D engineer. At the intersection between recycling and social entrepreneurship, the three friends raised €10 million in 2019 to buy and renovate an old German scientific exploration ship, renamed Plastic Odyssey.

After a number of field study trips, the ship set sail from Marseille on October 1, 2022 and delivered 5 recycling micro-factories. Thirty stopovers have been planned worldwide for this energy transition ambassador − after Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco, Simon Bernard and his crew have just dropped anchor in Dakar, Senegal where they will stay for a few weeks.

On the Plastic Odyssey, which is a genuine on-board demonstrator, local entrepreneurs discover and are trained in the use of a series of simple machines, that are then installed in maritime containers on land to recycle plastic waste. Simon and his friends share the same desire, namely to carry out recycling using technically appropriate and financially affordable solutions, that can then be used by as many people as possible to achieve maximum depollution. The plans of their machines are therefore logically open source.

As happened on board the ship, a system of pyrolysis of non-recyclable plastic waste in these containers will be used to produce green fuel, the same as that which powers the Plastic Odyssey, using plastic recovered in each port of call.

After Dakar, Simon and his crew will follow the African coast before setting sail for Latin America. 2024 will be dedicated to the Asia-Pacific zone before they return via the main ports of East Africa in 2025.

La French Fab depollutes! Easy tech, low cost!

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