Article | 22 Nov, 2021

IUCN Plastic Waste Free Islands project reaches for the sky as Lagoon boat owners gather plastic pollution data with DJI drones

On the heels of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, owners of Lagoon catamarans will use drones provided by DJI to measure plastic waste on beaches. This essential data, processed by AnimaMundi software, will provide evidence on whether actions to disrupt the flow of plastic into our oceans are leading to a reduction in pollution on our coastlines. 

Initially targeting the Caribbean islands, AnimaMundi is supporting data sharing projects with IUCN and its Plastic Waste Free Islands (PWFI) initiative to generate weekly total island coastal plastic waste profiles covering Grenada, St Lucia, Antigua & Barbuda.

In 2019, with the support of NORAD (the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation), IUCN launched the PWFI project in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and Oceania seeking to promote island circular economy and to demonstrate effective, quantifiable solutions to addressing plastic leakage from Small Island Developing States.

DJI has provided repurposed drones to capture images of the Caribbean coastline that would otherwise be out of reach. 

Through its ‘Club Lagoon’, Lagoon is encouraging its owners to sign up to this programme of data collection by drones.

Using artificial intelligence, computer vision, and object recognition technologies, AnimaMundi has developed the software to automatically record, count, and register the presence and number of plastic bottles on our shores in real time. This information can be captured via an app using still photography as well as images from drones. The data is automatically uploaded, processed, and stored on the company’s servers. This information will enable results-driven, measurable impact for project investments made.

Matt Cooper, founder and CEO, AnimaMundi states, “Just before COP26 began, world leaders admitted that an annual $100-billion climate finance goal will not be reached until 2023. The need for urgent climate action is met with the need to ensure adequate and effective financing solutions. Big data like this will help to determine priorities for action.”

The project began with drones piloted by sailors taking part in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC), which started from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Spain, on 21 November. 

Thomas Gailly, Lagoon Brand Director, commented; “Lagoon is proud to be partnering with AnimaMundi in this exciting data collection initiative using our ‘Club Lagoon’ as part of the solution. We have over 6000 of our catamarans sailing around the world and we can feel that our customers are more and more willing to play a role in such initiatives. It’s stimulating to think that the Lagoon owner’s community could be involved in capturing this much needed data in a highly efficient way. This partnership is the perfect complement to our own policy of respect for the environment and all the work undertaken to reduce the environmental impact of our activities.”

Olivier Mondon, Senior Communication Manager at DJI Europe, said: “Our drones and cameras empower people to capture amazing photos, video, and high-end professional imagery in every corner of the world. Each day, we learn how drones benefit society as a whole, and we are proud to have our drones embark on this environmental journey with experienced sailors who will be able to work using repurposed products to enable invaluable data capture.”

The plastic problem

Of the more than 300 million tons of plastic produced every year, at least 8 million tons end up in our oceans, making up 80% of all marine debris, from surface waters to deep-sea sediments. 33,000 single-use plastic bottles are dumped in our oceans every minute of every day, affecting every coastline.