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The Sun Shines to Keep Uyuni Salt Flats Clean

published: 2016-07-22 15:23

Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni are the world's largest salt flats. To keep the salt flats clean, Solar Frontier supplied 40 solar panels for a solar energy system to Projecto YOSI, an organization devoting to promoting sustainable tourism in the region. Projecto YOSI will collaborate with local community and use the solar energy system to power a device that changes plastic waste into petroleum, helping to address the growing problem of litter in the area.

Uyuni Salt Flats is a popular sightseeing spot, attracting around 1.2 million visitors to Bolivia every year. When a thin film of water collects on top of the vast salt deposits during the rainy season, the flooded plains turn into an ethereal and beautiful sight. Some call it the "Sky Mirror", as the vast and undisturbed surface of water reflects back the sun, sky and clouds.

However, littering has become an impact to local communities and a threat to the quality of the salt. In a bid to address this problem, a Japanese tour guide launched Projecto YOSI, gaining over time the support of the local government and academic institutions.

Yoshihito Honma represented the organization and tried to raise awareness about the littering issue. He introduced a small-sized device that can break down plastic waste into petroleum - and is powering it with solar energy. After a while, the Projecto YOSI has gained wider recognition in Bolivia, including from governmental institutions and universities. In January 2016, it featured in the Bolivian Ministry of Environment's booth at the Rallye Dakar.

Collaboration with Solar Frontier is a new step for the project. Yoshihiro Ishikawa, Manager of the Global Business Planning Division at Solar Frontier, says, "We believe this kind of opportunity helps customers think about what solar energy can really achieve. We're very grateful if projects such as these - using a device powered by clean, solar energy to turn waste into petroleum - will help raise public awareness."

"I dream that the Uyuni Salt Flats will one day be recognized as a model for sustainable tourism and environmental protection. I believe the first step is to set up activities that will protect the environment. To that end, it's important that we can establish a recycling system that is locally led, and so we have introduced a machine that will turn plastic waste into petroleum - using solar energy," said Yoshito Honma. "The solar panels that we have chosen are among the most environmentally friendly, and even in harsh environmental conditions, have demonstrated stable power generation."

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