NEWS - <I>Plastiki</I> expedition arrives in Sydney

NEWS - Plastiki expedition arrives in Sydney

After sailing more than 8000nm and spending 128 days crossing the Pacific, the world's largest ocean, in a boat made of 12,500 plastic PET bottles, the Plastiki expedition has safely and successfully reached their planned destination of Sydney to cheers of welcome and support.

Arriving at Sydney Heads at 11.10am yesterday with a 12knot south-southeasterly breeze, the Plastiki triumphantly sailed into Sydney Harbour to cheers of welcome and support from a small spectator flotilla.

The historic expedition was completed in four legs: San Francisco to Kiribati to Western Samoa to New Caledonia before reaching the Australian coast (Mooloolaba) on July 19 and continuing on to Sydney.

"It's an incredible feeling to finally arrive in Sydney,” said expedition leader David de Rothschild, 31 from the UK.

“We had great faith in the design and construction of Plastiki and while many people doubted we'd make it, we have proved that a boat made from plastic bottles can stand up to the harsh conditions of the Pacific.

"…the crew did a remarkable job sailing the Plastiki safely across the Pacific and it is due to their collective efforts that we've been able to raise global awareness of the issue of plastic waste in the world's oceans.

“If there's waste, it's badly designed in the first place, and we need to start taking a serious look at the way we produce and design every product we use in our lives," he

Plastiki was officially welcomed by Sydney's deputy Lord Mayor, Phillip Black and the US Ambassador to Australia, Jeffrey Bleich when she docked at the Australian National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour.
Plastiki will be on public display for the next month at the ANMM.

More than four months ago on March 20, under the watchful eye of a global audience, an inspiring yet experimental and innovative one-of-a-kind catamaran set sail under the shadow of San Francisco's world famous Golden Gate Bridge.
Carrying a crew of six intrepid explorers, the Plastiki set out on an epic and demanding mission described by the San Francisco Chronicle as the "adventure of the century".

The pursuit of this audacious and unrivalled ocean expedition is to alert the world to the shocking and unnecessary effects of single-use plastics on the health of our oceans and its inhabitants, organisers said.

According to de Rothschild this is a complex, challenging and now hugely catastrophic issue that scientists estimate is causing devastation on an unprecedented scale — every year at least one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die when they become entangled or ingest plastic pollution.

The crew of Plastiki have been on a mission to not only beat waste but to create a global message of hope by spotlighting some of the real-world solutions.
After braving the full extremes of the Pacific Ocean, the crew have fulfilled their ambitious quest to effect a "global message in a bottle", while setting a new precedent within the sailing and adventure community.

The sheer determination to raise awareness of plastic pollution has seen the crew tested to the limit. From massive ocean swells and 62-knot winds to the sweltering 100?F heat and doldrums of the equator; ripped sails, dangerous reefs and the intimidating endless blue horizon; the team has been driven to endure and overcome the challenges by an infectious shared passion to give our oceans a voice.
Their unwavering belief in the mission and the philosophy that if we work together and are not afraid to rise up to the challenge and tackle the 'just that's the way we've done it' mentality we can ultimately 'beat waste' and drive home the solution, has seen them succeed against the odds.

The adventure began four years ago for de Rothschild after reading the United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) report 'Ecosystems and Biodiversity in Deep Waters and High Seas'. He developed a vision to show that ultimately, waste was the result of a combination of inefficient design and a misunderstanding of how to use and more importantly how to dispose of plastic.
David decided that by creating a seaworthy ocean going vessel that gains 68 per cent of its buoyancy from 12,500 post consumer 2lt plastic bottles and an innovative smart new PET super structure made from a uniquely recyclable material called Seretex, he could help effect change.
The process of construction proved that waste is a valuable resource while also capturing the imagination of people around the world to believe that anything is possible if you're not afraid to break new ground. The journey has generated opportunity for tremendous curiosity, discovery and innovation as well as a platform for discussion, debate and now action.

Throughout this incredible journey the Plastiki crew have had a daily routine of living aboard a sustainable ecosystem in the middle of the ocean alongside the visual exposure to plastic waste discarded in the ocean.
According to de Rothschild, this experience has served to reaffirm the necessity and urgency to eliminate dumb, single-use plastics in our everyday lives and help safeguard the delicate balance of our planet's oceans.

David de Rothschild said: "While the successful and safe arrival of the Plastiki into Sydney may mark the end of the actual expedition, it also marks the start of arguably the most important and critical chapter in the Plastiki's mission to beat waste;
a chapter of change! It's change that can dramatically shift our daily habits away from an unnecessary and destructive addiction to single-use plastics, but even more importantly and urgently, a change in attitudes towards understanding, valuing and protecting one of our planet's most precious and important natural systems, our oceans.

"To achieve this lessening of humanity's increasingly destructive stranglehold on our natural environments is going to require a radical shift in the current system and the stories that we tell ourselves and each other. No longer is it acceptable to continue just articulating our Planet 1.0 failures, we must now show leadership and vision to support the stories, individuals and initiatives that help us to dream bigger, undertake more compelling adventures and fundamentally inspire, motivate and innovate solutions. Our failure to achieve such an outcome will undoubtedly leave humanity's ability to live on this planet, as we know it, in the balance. The time to give ourselves a chance of survival is truly upon us," he said.

* The Plastiki's core principles of 'cradle-to-cradle' design and biomimicry were realised by a multifaceted team from the fields of marine science, sustainable design, boatbuilding, architecture and material science.
The Plastiki receives 68 per cent of her buoyancy from 12,500 reclaimed plastic soft-drink bottles and the superstructure is made of a unique recyclable plastic material made from a self-reinforcing PET called Seretex.
* The mast is a reclaimed aluminium irrigation pipe. The one-of-a-kind sail is handmade from recycled PET cloth.
* The secondary bonding is reinforced using a newly developed organic glue made from cashew nuts and sugar cane.
* The Plastiki is 'off-the-grid' relying primarily on renewable energy systems including; solar panels, wind and trailing propeller turbines, bicycle generators, a urine-to-water recovery and rain-water catchment system and a hydroponic rotating cylinder garden.

* It is estimated that almost all of the marine pollution in the world is comprised of plastic materials. The average proportion varied between 60 and 80 per cent of total marine pollution.
* In many regions in the northern and southern Gyres, plastic materials constitute as much as 90 to 95 per cent of the total amount of marine debris.
* Scientists estimate that every year at least 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die when become entangled in plastic pollution or ingest it.
* According to Project Aware, 15 billion pounds of plastic are produced in the USA every year, and only 1 billion pounds are recycled. It is estimated that in excess of 38 billion plastic bottles and 25 million styrene foam cups end up in landfill and although plastic bottles are 100 per cent recyclable, on average only 20 per cent are actually recycled.
* The Plastiki crew noted that while many thousands of miles away from land, humanity's fingerprints were visible throughout. On one day alone a garden tray, two jerry cans, buoys and a large white PVC tray floated by, with the usual plastic bags, bottles, lids and styrene foam containers. While swimming they continually noticed that beneath the surface there are millions and millions of molecular pieces of plastic photo-degraded by salt and sunlight, often known as mermaid's tears.
* During the entire voyage the Plastiki crew have seen no sharks and have only caught a couple of fish, whereas during the Kon-Tiki expedition of 1947 they ate fish everyday and couldn't enter the water for fear of sharks.

For more info, go to