Africa: Kenya Launches World’s First 100% Recycled Plastic Sail Boat named the Flipflopi

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Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Najib Balala has launched the world’s first 100% recycled marine plastic and flip-flop boat into the Indian Ocean.

According to a statement from the country’s ministry of tourism, the project is aptly named the Flipflopi Project, due to its construction using thousands of repurposed flip-flops and ocean plastic collected on beach clean-ups along the Kenya coast.

Exactly a year after Kenya launched the world’s most drastic plastic bags ban, a Kenyan environmental project is completing its ground-breaking attempt to build a boat made entirely from re-used plastic.

The Flipflopi Project – is calling for a #Plasticrevolution – its ambition is for a world without single use plastic, and to help achieve this it is working to raise awareness of the danger of the single use culture that leads to so much plastic – more than 12m tonnes a year – being dumped at sea rather
than being repurposed recycled.

To highlight the potential of re-using plastic, the team has built an incredible 9 metre sailing dhow from over 10 tonnes of collected plastic waste.

With no precedents to learn from the Flipflopi project team, led by inspirational Lamu boat builder Ali Skanda, have had to develop pioneering techniques at every stage in order to craft the various components of the boat.

Limiting themselves to locally available technology and materials – they have collected discarded plastic, shredded it into small pieces, then heated it and remoulded it. The resulting plastic parts have been carved by Ali and his team of traditional dhowboat builders exactly as they would do wood.

Every single element of the boat has been painstakingly constructed by hand and the whole boat has been clad in colourful sheets of recycled flipflops. These flipflops have been collected on beach clean ups on Lamu’s beaches, where they are among the most prolific items found.

Once sea trails have been completed, the Flipflopi will be embarking on a ground-breaking 500km expedition from Lamu to Zanzibar in Tanzania. Departing in early 2019, the team will be visiting schools, communities and lawmakers along the way sharing solutions and changing mind sets of coastal residents in the areas it visits.

This Kenyan success story is also a great opportunity to champion Kenya as a top tourism destination – an environmentally-conscious African country that looks after both its wildlife, its marine and coastline heritage. After the above expedition, the Flipflopi will make its way back up the Kenya coast and be based in Lamu – where it will be available to be booked by the tourism sector for excursions, and will become one of Lamu’s flagship dhows for Tours and Excursions.

Sustainable tourism allows the optimal use of environmental resources that constitute a key element in tourism development, maintaining essential ecological processes and helping to conserve natural heritage and biodiversity.

It is for this reason that the Ministry developed the National Tourism Blueprint (NTB) 2030 – a strategy that will ensure Kenya’s tourism industry remains competitive and grows.

The Blueprint focuses on four key strategies, namely: Product, Marketing, Infrastructure and Investment. It will also provide strategic direction towards ensuring tourism is a driver for sustainable national development in the country, that plays a key role in protecting the environment, preservation of cultural heritage and creating shared value of tourism to all and equitable distribution of tourism benefits.

This ensures tourism is accessible and beneficial to all Kenyans in the supply chain, e.g. from the host communities, service providers, investors to tourism consumers

CS Balala lauded initiatives such as this Flipflopi Dhow, which significantly puts Kenya on both the world’s environment and tourism maps for the good reasons.

It also enhances Lamu’s reputation as the Island of Festivals, where unique and innovative are showcased to visitors.

The Ministry’s supports such initiatives like this that work positively towards achieving our national vision for tourism. We commend the FlipFlopi Expedition for the vision of creating such a project.

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