Billionaire adventurer and environmentalist David de Rothschild spoke yesterday at the Greener by Design conference about his upcoming journey with six crew members from San Francisco, California to Sydney, Australia on the “Plastiki,” a boat constructed from recycled waste and a material called srPET that’s made from webs of plastic.
The Plastiki wasn’t easy to put together, and required significant design expertise. “People expect this to be latched together and not something that’s about design,” de Rothschild said. Originally, Rothschild and his team envisioned a boat made of bottles packed together like a pomegranate. The team realized that the boat would break apart in the middle of the ocean, and then came up with the idea to use bottles for buoyancy with a separate frame. The final incarnation of the 60-foot, nine-ton Plastiki contains a hull made of frames filled with 12,000 plastic bottle along with cabins and bulkheads made of srPET.
De Rothschild’s journey, modeled on the 1947 Kon-tiki voyage, isn’t just for fun. The trip is inspired by the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a mass of plastic trash that spans hundreds of miles northwest of Hawaii. de Rothschild wants to use his plastic ship to show that the material doesn’t have to be our enemy.
“It’s about inspiring and getting people to act on information,” de Rothschild said. “Plastic can be a solution for creating a more sustainable planet.” Throughout the trip, de Rothschild will collect water samples and post pictures, videos and blogs about the plastic pollution he finds. Once the journey is complete, de Rothschild will ask the Plastiki website community what to do with the boat. “It may go back into another boat, in clothing, in a funky pair of shoes,” he said.
The Plastiki begins its Hewlett-Packard, Kiehl’s, and International Watch Company-sponsored journey this August in San Francisco.