Helios Eyewear Adopts Circular Economy Model To Address Marine Pollution & Challenges Of The Fishermen Community

Posted on September 14, 2022

Through a campaign entitled RESIGHT, the Mauritian factory brand Helios Eyewear has harnessed over a decade long expertise in research, development and production of eyewear frames to preserve the marine environment and support the community around it. They have done so by addressing two crucial issues with devastating effects in one go: on one hand, plastic pollution in the country’s water bodies, and on the other, the risk for fishermen of developing eye-related diseases when carrying out their daily activity. While highlighting the considerable impact of plastic pollution on marine biodiversity, RESIGHT proves that eco-responsibility and community engagement can go hand in hand through recycling and reuse of plastic trash collected under water to produce UV protective eyewear for Mauritian fishermen.

Helios Eyewear is the brand of Plastinax Austral Ltd (a subsidiary of the ENL Group), the leading eyewear manufacturer in the Indian Ocean. They partnered with the Rotary Club of Phoenix in Mauritius (RCP) and the Mauritius Fishermen Cooperative Federation (MFCF), to undertake a major clean-up campaign at Grand River South East (GRSE), the country’s longest river, and raise awareness among the fishing community of the region as well as Mauritians at large about the threat of plastic pollution to the local marine biodiversity and us, humans. Some 50 volunteers collected 70 bags of trash along the river and its banks, this amount of waste having been dumped either by local residents or carried downstream by the current.

“It is estimated that the ocean would contain 1 tonne of plastic for every 3 tonnes of fish by 2025 and more plastics than fish in the ocean by 2050 by weight if no action is taken. These global figures are alarming and among the first to suffer are fishermen who depend on the quality of the lagoon to feed their families and make a living. We are conscious that it is urgent to promote a circular economy model, whereby plastic waste is not only collected, but is revalorised to serve a purpose after being recycled. But while recycling represents a genuine effort, not polluting is even better; recycling is a mitigating measure to a problem that needs to be addressed at source. That is why we firmly believe in sensitisation and awareness as part of our efforts to craft a better tomorrow. It was thus equally important to gather local residents to raise awareness about the urgency of adopting responsible waste management habits, for the common benefit of the community and the environment alike,” says Nicholas Park, Managing Director of Plastinax Austral Ltd.

The human dimension also takes centre stage in the RESIGHT campaign. Indeed, when dumped into waterways, micro plastics are a major danger when ingested by aquatic organisms, which may be fatal to human beings as part of the food chain. Another crucial factor that the campaign addresses is the risk for fishermen’s eyesight due to prolonged exposure to the sun. Indeed, the reflection of UV rays on the water’s surface causes the eyes to dry up due to the parched salty air, making them prone to corneal damage and diseases, refractive errors in sight as well as a higher risk of cataracts.

“RESIGHT is the perfect illustration of the implementation of a circular model in which addressing one environmental issue provides the solution to a more human-centred one. Plastinax Austral Ltd, Helios Eyewear’s parent company, recycled the 10,000 plastic bottles collected at GRSE to produce 2,000 polarised and UV protected sunglasses, which were offered to local fishermen to protect their eyes from potential damage. Plastinax Austral Ltd, specialising in the production and export of eyewear, has, over the years, developed specific techniques and processes to melt various plastic waste to generate raw material. We recycled an average of five one-litre plastic bottles to manufacture each pair of sunglasses. This transformation is indeed impressive, knowing that the same pollutant which formerly endangered fishermen’s fishing grounds had been turned into protective eyewear for their own well-being,” adds Nicholas.

Together with the spirit of innovation, eco-responsibility is embedded in Plastinax Austral Ltd’s day-to-day business and manufacturing processes. For several years now,  it has dedicated extensive resources to experimentation, with the aim of finding sustainable materials for the production of its eyewear. Helios Eyewear has thus been able to provide frames made of wood fibres and others with repurposed plastic. In the same momentum of growth and of perpetual innovation, Helios Eyewear has extended the reach of its e-commerce platform to countries in the African region.

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