About Henderson

Henderson Island is an uninhabited island in the south Pacific Ocean. It is part of the Pitcairn Island Group, together with Pitcairn, Oeno, and Ducie Islands. Measuring 9.6 by 5.1 kilometres, it has an area of 37.3 km2 and is located 193 km northeast of Pitcairn Island, which is the only inhabited island of the group.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Known As The World’s Most Polluted Place On Earth

A 2015 analysis (published in 2017) found that in the South Pacific, one of the Pitcairn archipelago’s four islands, Henderson, has more than 18 tonnes of plastic on its beaches: “the highest density of plastic debris recorded anywhere in the world”.

The 38km2 island has >38 million pieces of plastic upon its shores. Conservative estimates suggest that 3,500-13,500 new plastic items wash up on Henderson each day.

One of its beaches, the 2km long East Beach, is polluted by 30 million plastic items.

An Impossible Cleanup

The First Attempt in 2019

In 2019, an expedition attempted to clean up the island. 6 tonnes of rubbish were collected but the expedition was unable to remove the big bags due to the impassable coral reef.

The Coral Reef Challenge

One major challenge in waste removal on Henderson Island is crossing the coral reef, made difficult by adverse weather. The last expedition had to land on a distant beach and traverse through jungle and shoreline to reach the polluted East Beach, as using a boat to cross the reef and extract waste was not feasible.

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