Thursday 28 October 2021

Couple set off for south pole in solar-powered recycled plastic truck

A Dutch couple are aiming to reach the south pole in a home-made truck constructed from recycled plastic and powered by solar panels.

The Solar Voyager set off on Monday for the Caribbean on the first leg of its journey to Antarctica, which its owners have dubbed the Clean2Antarctica mission.

Edwin and Liesbeth ter Velde, from Zaandam, devised the project as a way of making a statement about waste and recycling. ‘We were cooking together and like everyone who cooks, we ended up with a big pile of plastic,’ Liesbeth told Radio 1 Journaal. ‘And that set us thinking: what can we do with it?’

The Ter Veldes have managed to reduce their net waste at home to zero, but Edwin pointed out: ‘I’ve been producing waste for 50 years which is still out there. What can I do with it? I didn’t want to make a work of art or something small. I wanted something on a large scale, I like to make a statement. It had to be something big and functional.’

The trip will not be entirely emission-free, as the first part is being covered by air and sea. But once in Antarctica Edwin and Liesbeth will be travelling on wheels, with no heating, in temperatures as low as minus 30C.

‘We’ll have to eat a lot in order to stay alive and wear plenty of warm clothes. I’m dreading the cold most of all, but we’re going to embrace the discomfort,’ said Liesbeth.

Edwin said he hopes to encourage more people to adopt a zero-waste lifestyle and be more creative with recycling. ‘I want to spur people into action and surprise them,’ he said. ‘Going zero-waste is not just good for sustainability, it’s a brilliant gift to yourself. We have discovered so many new things. I’d recommend it to anyone.’

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