Will plastic reach the South Pole? Dutch couple plans environmental mission

Photo: Clean2Antarctica
Photo: Clean2Antarctica

A Dutch couple is planning to drive across Antarctica in a solar-powered vehicle made from recycled plastic, in a bid to encourage people to reuse their waste.

Edwin and Leisbeth ter Velde, founders of the Clean2Antarctica project, have announced that in November they will attempt to set a record by driving to the South Pole with clean technology.

‘Our mission is to change the mindset of people,’ said Gerie Smit, spokeswoman for the non-profit foundation. ‘They want to be the first people to drive in a plastic vehicle through Antartica as an awareness raising thing to tell the world: what will you do with your [waste] plastic?’

Smit said that they have raised around €1million to take the 40-day trip at minus -30 degrees C, and are now fundraising for a tall ship to carry 120 young people from Amsterdam to see the launch of the mission.

The ‘solar voyager’ vehicle has been built with all kinds of plastic waste, with the help of 3D printing, and will be transported by plane with the couple to Union Glacier Camp.


Edwin ter Velde said in a press release: ‘Plastic itself is not the problem, but how we ourselves use it. It is so easy to use plastic plates and cutlery at a barbecue…. Even bread, cheese, and meat are often packaged in various layers of plastic. The responsibility lies with us, not with government.’

The organisation aims to work with young people to promote a so-called circular economy in which things are designed with reuse and disposal in mind, and everything possible is recycled.

They have tested the vehicle, created with the help of Arctic Trucks, in Iceland and created a video of their experience. ‘Our mission shows, and hopefully also inspires [people] that when you choose to go for something like zero waste, you can make a huge contribution to sustainability, and give yourself a beautiful gift too,’ he says in the video.

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