Plastiki reaches Sydney

July 27, 2010 by Henry Benjamin
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British environmentalist David de Rothschild received a tumultous welcome when he reached Sydney yesterday aboard his catamaran “Plastiki” whose hull is made from 12,500 plastic bottles.

All photos: Henry Benjamin

The 31-year-old youngest son of financier Sir Evelyn de Rothschild reached Sydney at the end of a 128-day, 8000 nautical miles voyage from San Francisco.

Shortly after Plastiki berthed at the city’s Maritime Museum, de Rothschild told the welcoming crowd that his voyage was made to draw attention to the mass of plastic waste in the planet and especially in the oceans. He said that the first plastics were made 101 years ago and were still in existence “somewhere on the  planet”. Because of the indestructible nature of the material, de Rothschild is campaigning for industry and business to ban plastic bags and bottles.

Sydney’s Deputy Lord Mayor, Phillip Black, said that both Sydney and its sister city San Francisco are updating their 1968 partnership agreement to implement stronger environmental controls and said that the Plastiki has created a legacy of the challenge of solving the problem of plastic waste.

David de Rothschild Photo: Henry Benjamin

Jeffrey Bleich, the US ambassador to Australia was at the dock in his home town of  San Francisco when Plastiki began its epic voyage. He said: “Two years ago you were just five men and a woman and 12,500 plastic bottles. This was not just a great adventure. Plastiki has delivered a message. Americans and Australians have fought and died to make the Pacific Ocean safe and free. Today, we are killing this ocean.Plastic and garbage have accumulated, suffocating marine animals and is literally choking the ocean” He said that the voyage was not just an adventure…it was a symbol. He paid tribute to the six members of the Plastiki’s crew. He added: “Never doubt the power of a small group of committed people to change the world”. He called on Australians and Americans to play their part in controlling plastic garbage “before it is too late”.

David presents Deputy Mayor Black with a bottle

Before addressing the welcoming crowd, de Rothschild presented  a gift from the mayor of San Francisco to Phillip Black….and empty plastic bottle which he asked to asked Sydney to fill it with a memorandum of understanding. Black responded by saying that the State Government’s help is needed to solve the environmental issues.

De Rothschild , founder of Adventure Ecology, paid tribute to the six members of the Plastiki crew. He said that the he had been “dumbfounded” after reading a United Nations report on the human fingerprints on the planet’s oceans. He said that they were in the middle of the Pacific “1,000 miles from anywhere” when they decided to drop the sails and go for a swim…and in the ocean they they discovered tiny particles of garbage evidencing the “human fingerprints”. He said:”They get smaller and smaller and eventually get ingested”. He named the plastic bag, the plastic bottle and the lids of the plastic bottle as major culprits. He said: “These items we can eliminate today.”

Ian Kiernan, Chairman of Cleanup Australia and Cleanup the World told media that water bottled in plastic is one of the greatest cons perpetrated on mankind.

De Rothschild told media later: “The journey is just beginning. This is a chapter of change. It’s a change that can dramatically shift our daily habits away from an unnecessary and destructive addiction to single use plastics and a change towards understanding, valuing and protecting one of our planet’s most precious and natural systems…our oceans.”

Plastiki, designed by Andy Duval, a Sydney-based naval architect who is the creator of three Sydney-Hobart winning yachts, completed the journey from San Francisco to Australia in four legs calling in at Kiribati, Western Samoa and New Caledonia.

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