July 6, 2010

Recyclable Plastic Ship On Last Leg Of Its Journey

Organizers said Tuesday that a boat made from 12,500 plastic bottles will leave New Caledonia for Sydney this week on the final leg of a voyage across the Pacific to raise environmental awareness.

The "Plastiki" has already sailed 6,944 nautical miles in 108 days from San Francisco to the French Pacific territory.

The voyage, inspired by the 1947 Kon-Tiki raft expedition, is said to highlight the dangers of plastic pollution, over-fishing and climate change to the world's oceans.  It is expected to start its last and most challenging leg on Wednesday after arriving in New Caledonia last week.

"It looks like tomorrow they will be leaving," a spokeswoman told the AFP news agency.

"They just watch the weather patterns basically, and plan their journey around the weather patterns so that's why they're leaving tomorrow, good sailing conditions (are forecast)."

British adventurer and ecologist David de Rothschild, the youngest heir to Britain's Rothschild family banking fortune, came up with the idea of a fully recyclable ship after reading a UN report on ocean ecosystems.

He said that the idea was partly inspired by Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl's trans-Pacific Kon-Tiki expedition from South America to Polynesia on a raft that was entirely made from balsa husks.

The Plastiki is held together with fully recyclable plastic called Seretex and an organic glue made from cashew nut husks and sugarcane.  Its sails are made from recycled plastic.

The Plastiki's recyclable materials are packed together in a "pomegranate-like" structure that is fixed to pontoons, which gives it 68 percent of its buoyancy.  The vessel uses fully renewable energy sources including solar, wind and sea turbines.

The spokeswoman told AFP that the ship has already stopped in the Line Islands and Western Samoa, and its final stretch to Sydney is expected to take about 10 days.

"The Plastiki crew hope to inspire the world to reduce, reuse, recycle, rethink and ultimately refuse our use of wasteful disposable plastics such as bags, styrene foam and bottles," she said.


Image Caption: Plastiki sailing out of the harbor as it departs on it journey through the south pacific. Courtesy of Luca Babini/Plastiki


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