Partnership Forms to Recycle Waste in the Antarctic

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If recycling seems difficult to you, just think about what it’s like in other parts of the world — like ones at the end of the earth. In 1962, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) began to participate in regulating developments at “the bottom” of the globe: the Antarctic. BAS had many goals, but one of the most important was to work on limiting the amount of manmade waste that entered the region, particularly from oil rigs and survey work.

BAS wanted to make sure that any waste created during its activities was carted out afterward, so it organized regular shipments of waste and other materials to ports in the United Kingdom. Twice each year, these materials were disposed of or recycled properly.

Today, the global resource management company Veolia is partnering with BAS to extend such waste recovery efforts. When waste materials are delivered to various ports across the UK, Veolia will provide maritime barges and support vehicles to collect and transfer them to affiliated recycling facilities.

Public Interest

One of the vessels used in this project will be the recently completed RRS Sir David Attenborough, nicknamed Boaty McBoatface. This vessel garnered quite a bit of attention during a public contest to name the boat. BAS is hopeful that the activities of this vessel will bring greater attention to its efforts, given that it received more than 32,000 suggested names during the competition.

On the surface, the partnership sounds fairly simple. But it’s a significant undertaking, due to the complexity of transferring and handling the waste.

“Maintaining the environment of the Polar Regions and safely delivering complex operations in extreme conditions produces a diverse range of materials,” reads the Veolia press release. “These include laboratory samples, electrical equipment, commercial waste, clothing, rope, survival gear and more recently the obsolete living quarters.”

In order to meet the requirements, Veolia will bring in complex teams that include recycling specialists, logistics professionals and chemists who know how to maximize the recovery process. They’ll work to get the most out of each shipment of nonrecyclable materials and try to ensure that the recycling is carried out in a safe, economical manner.

Estelle Brachlianoff, senior executive vice president at Veolia UK & Ireland, said the new contract is mutually advantageous for BAS and Veolia. She’s hopeful that their connection will increase support for the mission of BAS as well as expand the world’s reuse of renewable resources.

“The British Antarctic Survey is at the forefront of innovation in the study of human impact on the planet,” Brachlianoff said. “As a company dedicated to lowering this impact, their activities align closely with Veolia’s own global strategy to preserve resources and lower carbon emissions with an aim of achieving a circular economy. Our continuing support for this work will help them maintain their unique work environment and protect the Polar Regions.”

Waste Management Far Away

The undertaking is one that Veolia appears enthusiastic about tackling. The company is hoping its efforts will promote more recycling in the industry and ease some of the negative environmental impact that has been observed in this distant region of the globe.

Rachel Clarke, head of environment at BAS said in a statement, “We value the commitment of our waste contractors to help us improve our recycling rates and meet the objectives of our environmental strategy. As an organization at the forefront of environmental research, we welcome innovative solutions for waste management and ways to improve our environmental performance.”

Veolia fully supports the BAS mission to reduce adverse environmental impacts in this part of the world. Another primary mission of BAS is to research the way that human activities around the world are affecting the Polar Regions.

Any effort to reduce waste in this region is valued, as well as actions to reduce the effects of climate change in this part of the planet.

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock

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Anna Johansson

Anna is a freelance writer, researcher and business consultant. A columnist for Entrepreneur.com, HuffingtonPost.com and more, Anna loves enjoying the great outdoors with her family. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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