Plastiki docks in Sydney Harbour


An important message arrives in 12,500 repurposed plastic bottles.


The Plastiki will be on temporary display at Sydney’s Maritime Museum for about a month.


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Sydney welcomed a very special boat into its harbour yesterday morning when the Plastiki arrived – an 18.2 m catamaran made with plastic bottles.

Four months and 800 nautical miles after the Plastiki set sail from San Francisco the catamaran was towed to dock at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

"We have proved that a boat made from plastic bottles can stand up to the harsh conditions of the Pacific," said expedition leader, David de Rothschild, a descendent of the famous British banking family.

Made from 12,500 reclaimed 2 L soft drink bottles, the boat highlights the issue of plastic pollution in the world's oceans by showcasing waste as a resource.

"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," de Rothschild said.

The Plastiki is an example of how to reduce, reuse, recycle, rethink and ultimately refuse single use plastic.

Gaining 68 per cent of its buoyancy from the post consumer plastic bottles strapped to a recycled plastic hull, even the glue that holds it together is a newly-developed organic glue made from cashew nuts and sugar cane. The mast is a reclaimed aluminium irrigation pipe, and the sail is hand-made from recycled PET cloth.

Relying primarily on renewable energy systems including solar panels, wind and trailing propeller turbines, and bicycle generators, the Plastiki even has a urine-to-water recovery and rainwater catchment system fitted to a hydroponic garden.

De Rothschild paid tribute to his fellow adventurers – including photographers, film makers, and the founder of – for their skill and commitment during the voyage.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program said "Like millions upon millions of people around the world, we have marvelled at this ingenious, intrepid and inspirational voyage."

"The message they have conveyed to politicians and the public is simple—if we collectively carry on using the seas and oceans as a dustbin, human-beings will soon turn the once beautiful and bountiful marine environment from a crucial and economically-important life-support system into a lifeless one."

"Society needs to turn the tide in 2010 by turning wastes and pollution from a problem into an opportunity for a low carbon, resource efficient global Green Economy so urgently needed for a sustainable 21st century," said Steiner.

Every year at least one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die when they become entangled or ingest plastic pollution.

De Rothschild warns that "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."

The Plastiki will be on temporary display at Sydney's Maritime Museum for about a month.

Check out our chat with David de Rothschild in the September/October 2010 issue of G Magazine, on sale September 1st, to hear more about the adventures of the Plastiki.