Days 7 & 8: Last Days on Henderson

The last day of collecting on Henderson Island has arrived…

In the early hours of the morning, we traverse the long kilometer to the southern end of the beach, laden with water and empty Big Bags to commence the last waste collection.

Tristan, Yoann, Pamphile, and Jonathan disembarked this morning from the Plastic Odyssey to assist us. We leave the final traces of our passage beneath our feet on the white sand, which regains its brilliant color without all this garbage.

The last hours of collection are long, and we continue to “bake in the sun.” But we redouble our efforts to arrive at our aptly named “Harbor Camp” at 1 pm. The beach is completely free of garbage! We gather in the shade of the tarp, the stretched tarpaulin that protects us from the sun, near the passage in the reef that we’ve marked with a buoy. We’re relieved to have accomplished this titanic task!

But now it’s time to get all the bags onto the boat, and it’s off to an afternoon of incessant to-ing and fro-ing between the beach and the on-board crane loading the bags onto the deck. On board, Maxime and Baptiste operate the shredder for 14 hours a day. The plastic is shredded, washed, and finally dried. It’s the first time we’ve run our machines for so long, and it’s a real challenge: the swell swings us from side to side, as our waiting position off the east coast of the island is unprotected. The plastic is dirty, giving off a lot of dust due to a mixture of sand and salt that completely covers Baptiste and Maxime’s wetsuits.

We have to shred as much plastic as possible because we won’t be able to store it all on board: 10 big bags reduced in volume by shredding become 1 big bag. And the material that comes out of these material preparation stages yields quality granules, ready to be used to make paving stones, benches, or tables.

Time to break camp. We prepare for our last night on the island, trying to unload as much material as possible to travel “light” tomorrow. Last supper under the stars. We share a bottle of sparkling wine, brought back by the crew, in our coconut bowls.

It’s a rainy night, and we wake up at 1:30 am to pack everything away in a hurry: the cameras are somewhat protected under tarpaulins, but it won’t be long before the waterspouts hit them. Early in the morning, we dry the tents and tarpaulins and pack up. We send all our belongings to the platform, and 7 of us remain on the island: Simon, Alexandre, Morgane, Ricky, Pierre, Ludwig, and Olivier.

The results of our mission are engraved on an aluminum plate, which we place on a wooden frame and recycled plastic at the edge of the beach:

  • Quantity of plastic collected: 9322 Kg
  • Quantity of plastic recycled on board: 2310 Kg

On the back of the plaque are the names of all the participants in this crazy adventure.

Team on the island:

  • Simon BERNARD
  • Alexandre DECHELOTTE
  • Morgane KERDONCUFF
  • Baptiste LOMENECH
  • Maxime THIROUIN
  • Ludwig BLANC
  • Hanna DIJKSTRA
  • Brett HOWELL
  • Valentin PROULT
  • Pierre DE PARSCAU
  • Olivier LÖSER
  • Richard RHODES
  • Timothée COOK

Onboard team:

  • Yoan LONG
  • Franck LE GRAS
  • Simon GOURET
  • Tristan BROUDIC
  • Jonathan GALA BI
  • Tanguy LESQUER
  • Aodren BRONSARD
  • Pamphile PEUDONNIER
  • Patrick AWATE
  • Désiré YOUAN
  • Ramsès (the cat)

Many thanks to all of you. This adventure would never have come to fruition without everyone’s hard work. It will go down in history as the first “Impossible Cleanup” mission. Enough to make us want to take on even crazier challenges!

On Henderson, animals return to the clean beach: a green turtle visits the south side, birds descend from the cliff edges to the north. Are they happy without all that plastic? Disoriented? We’ll never know. But we do know that the best thing to do after this man-made disaster was to return them to their native habitat as intact as possible.

As we sink our last flippers into the reef to reel in our mooring, we look back one last time at the clean beach. As the sun sets, the wildlife can resume its rhythm.

Other news

In the early hours of the morning, we traverse the long kilometer to the southern end of the beach, laden with water and empty Big Bags to commence the last waste collection....

Today is Sunday, and we're trying to mark the occasion by treating ourselves to a lie-in. A few hours of free time: some go for a run, others explore the extremities of the beach....

The usual rhythm takes shape: by 6 o'clock, most team members are already operational. This morning marks the beginning of the major collection!...

If the Silver Supporter keeps its promise and joins us today, it could save us from a complex logistical problem by retrieving a significant portion of the heaviest bags....

Operational from 6 in the morning, we start working before the sun overwhelms us. By 7 o'clock, the temperature rises sharply and becomes almost unbearable....

The sun has risen on the East beach of Henderson Island, where 12 of us have spent the first of our seven days on site. As quickly as possible, to escape the scorching sun, we spread out along the entire length of the beach and begin gathering the Big Bags....

After a first night off the coast of Henderson Island, the Plastic Odyssey teams gather early to set foot on the East beach of the island. Today's missions: set up the camp, carry out surveys, and test the systems for transporting plastic waste packaged in Big Bags......

On Monday, February 12, 2024, the Plastic Odyssey vessel and the expedition crew arrived off the coast of Henderson Island. Circling the island from its southern side and taking advantage of favorable navigation conditions....