PROJECT SAINT HELENA
Research trip to Saint Helena from 11th to 17th December 2018 to set up our model project for Islands.
The CLEANFORGOOD Foundation had the opportunity to go and visit the remote island of Saint Helena situated in the South Atlantic Ocean. A Volcanic tropical island, located 4000 km from Rio and 1950 km from South Western Africa. It’s home to around 4500 people and Jonathan, the oldest living tortoise known to man who is 187 years old. Saint Helena is a beautiful Island of 122 km2 with wonderful landscapes and surrounded by a beautiful ocean.
Being in the center of the South Atlantic Gyre, the island receives daily doses of plastic waste on both accessible and less accessible beaches. With the local organisations – the Saint Helena National Trust and the Environmental Management Division, who aim to preserve Saint Helena’s environmental and cultural heritage – we were able to visit Sandy Bay Beach and document the scope of this incoming plastic pollution. We spent a few hours picking up broken down pieces of plastics, micro plastics and even nurdles from a spill that happened in Durban in 2017.
As you may have already heard or witnessed, these plastics poison and kill wildlife, such as turtles, birds, fish and other marine creatures, which we end up eating. In 2016, research was done on drinking water and it was discovered that our bottled water is contaminated by micro plastics. Everything is connected and plastic doesn’t just disappear. It either sinks, breaks up or finishes in our food and drinking water. It travels great distances as it was proven to us by a plastic medicine bottle from Japan, found on the beach, more than 15’000 km away from its place of production.
The island is dependant on the import of goods such as fuel, food and other necessary goods for human life to thrive. Much of these goods are packaged in plastic. The islands current way of dealing with the waste generated on the island is landfill. The waste management on the island digs 9 meter deep wholes that they fill up with public waste on a daily basis. One hole has a life span of 8 to 12 months. Each day 2 to 3 dump trucks collect and dispose of upto 6 tons of waste. A quick calculation gave us an average of 1.35 kg of waste created daily per person. This is just general waste, let’s not forget waste oil, cooking oil, tyres, electrical compliances, bio waste etc. All of which can be transformed into energy using our partners technology. Saint Helena’s landfill has around 8 years of dumping space left to use.
The goal of our visit was to research the problem, discuss our solution and come to a conclusion on how we can collaborate in helping the island become greener and more environmentally friendly. By using our solution we would create a circular economy. By tranforming waste into fuel :
- Less fuel could be imported and certainly less would be burnt in the importation process.
- By digging up the waste from the landfill and transforming it would extend the life span of the landfill thus leaving more space for waste storage.
- Less contamination would leak into the ground as well as less or no methane let out into the atmosphere.
We are currently preparing a full proposal on ideas, which will help the Island in becoming fully self sustainable and environmentally friendly. By transforming waste into energy we create job opportunities and economical stability which will only strengthen the island and its inhabitants all while being a beacon by showing what can be achieved with our solution.
Saint Helena’s goal is to become totally green and environmentally friendly by 2021, our idea is to help them achieve that goal and we are confident we can obtain it before 2021
We kindly thank Ryan Belgrove from Enterprise St. Helena for the help in organising our stay and meetings on the island.
Names and borders don’t stop pollution from travelling, everything is connected, we are one planet, we are a whole, something thrown away in one place can finish its journey in a totally different part of the world or even in your plate.