Ascension Island Government

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World Environmental Day 2023

5 June 2023

Conservation, Government, Press Release

Beat Plastic Pollution

This year is the 50th anniversary of World Environment Day, established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972. Celebrated annually on June 05, this year’s World Environment Day theme is ‘Solutions to Plastic Pollution’ under the campaign #beatplasticpollution. Awareness of the impacts of plastic pollution is growing worldwide and this year’s theme is a reminder that people’s actions on plastic pollution matter.


South Atlantic Plastics Project

Ascension Island is a part of the “South Atlantic Plastics Project: Ascension and St Helena” funded by the Darwin PLUS Initiative and John Ellerman Foundation. The Ascension Island Government is working closely alongside the St Helena National Trust, St Helena Government and the Zoological Society of London to collaborate on addressing plastic pollution on our islands.


This project is working with communities to understand how single-use plastic is used by the populations of each island to identify locally appropriate and affordable ways to reduce single-use plastic consumption, waste and pollution. Ascension, in common with other small island nations, has limited capacity to recycle plastic waste and currently manages it through high temperature incineration along with general waste. Therefore, the most appropriate solutions to single-use plastics on Ascension will not be ones that focus on recycling single-use plastic waste generated on island but ones that focus on ‘Turning off the tap’, that reduce the volume of single-use plastics being brought to the island.


We want to increase the community's knowledge regarding the impacts of plastic and how single-use plastic consumption and pollution is everyone's concern; it impacts waste management, human health and environmental health. This will enable us to collaborate to promote positive regional effects for biodiversity, fisheries, tourism, and the economy of both islands and align us with local and international commitments to deal with plastic pollution.


Another key focus of the project is to understand where and how plastic pollution is accumulating in the marine environment of Ascension and the impacts it has on our wildlife. Some of the key findings to report so far include:


  • The identification of pollution hotspots on the south coast of the island where drifting ocean plastics are accumulating.
  • 667 single-use plastic bottles have been collected from the south coast. Brand data available from 286 of the bottles identified 15 source countries from Asia and Africa. China is the largest source country, where 92% of identifiable bottles were manufactured.
  • Beach huts around the coastline are pollution hotspots as the littering of plastic by the public is causing plastic to enter our marine environment, with the most frequently littered item being cigarette butts.
  • A study of brown boobies on the Letterbox peninsula found that 23% of study nests contained plastic pollution which the birds are collecting to use as nesting material.


Other progress to report includes the successful application for funding from the Darwin Local initiative to fund the purchase of free-standing outdoor cigarette butt bins for North East Beach hut, English Bay Beach huts, Long Beach Beach hut, Turtle Ponds Beach hut, AIG Beach hut, Georgetown Pierhead, Saint’s Club and Two Boats Club. These will be in place later this year, enabling our community to take responsibility for our cigarette butts and #beatplasticpollution.

The Ascension Island Government, with South Atlantic Plastic Project partners, has also initiated a wider conversation with other UK Overseas Territories and UK Crown Dependencies to collaborate on addressing plastic pollution as we are the custodians of large, diverse and globally-important marine environments.




For more information about the South Atlantic Plastics Project, please contact Tobias Capel on 66403 or