Seychelles expects to have a facility that will help reduce the volume of waste on the landfill and produce energy in two years’ time with the assistance of the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), a top official said on Thursday.
The environment minister, Flavien Joubert, made the statement to reporters after a meeting between local authorities and two representatives of the IFC to start the process.
“The government made a request last year with the International Finance Corporation, an arm of the World Bank, that they will work with us as transaction advisers to start a process in which we will present a proposition to treat waste on Mahe with those interested in the private sector,” said Joubert.
Through the project, Seychelles is looking to set up a waste-to-energy plant, which is a facility that produces clean and renewable energy through the combustion of municipal waste. The plant can reduce the amount of waste by up to 80 percent, the remaining of which is disposed of in landfills.
“We want to complete phase one in 8 months maximum where we will be going to markets and the next phase, which is the signing up in 18 months. In about 18 months we want to confirm our agreement with private companies and then start the process of implementation,” said Joubert.
Minister Joubert with Bernard Atlan (right) and Servant Bleindou from IFC agt the meeting on Thursday. (Betymie Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
On whether Seychelles has enough waste for such a facility, Joubert said that “we have around 95,000 tonnes of waste per year, and around 50,000 can be recovered for waste energy. We also have landfills on Praslin and La Digue and we will think about how to join them together and bring them to the same point to be treated.”
The minister said that phase one of the project starts immediately and an agreement will be signed in the coming weeks through which IFC will be like a consultant for Seychelles and help from the beginning to the end of the project.
On his side, Bernard Atlan, the principal investment officer of IFC said, “What we have discussed and agreed for the way forward will be for IFC to assist the government to find a solution on how to involve the private sector to determining the most cost-effective solution for the management of waste in Seychelles.”
Joubert said that the project is an important step for Seychelles because it will be a solution that will help the island nation address the issue of the lack of space for landfills.
“This is a solution that is recommended and is more appropriate for islands because we are far from recycling markets; we do not have enough space and our resources are quite close to each other. It is too complicated for us to manage them all together with other necessities that we have in the country,” he explained.
Furthermore, a waste-to-energy plant will reduce the risk of fires on the landfill that Seychelles is currently facing.
“Waste energy in principle reduces your waste by around 80 percent so it will depend on what kind of technology and the company but it will minimsie such incidences by 80 percent. Additionally, when you are doing waste energy you are removing everything that are causing us problems today like wood, tyres, and plastic and those cause the biggest risks and cause the fire to propagate and become worse,” he said.
On the economic side, Atlan said that one of the advantages of waste to energy is that it addresses the high cost of power in the country because it leverages the availability of waste to produce electricity.
“The price of electricity sold on the market offsets the cost that the government has to pay for the treatment of waste. That is usually the way the model works,” he added.