Boat owners use drones to create global database on plastic pollution – GPS World magazine

AnimaMundi Ocean Data Solutions, DJI and Lagoon are using drones to build a comprehensive database of plastic waste on coastlines throughout the world.
Photo: Matt Cooper/AnimaMundi
AnimaMundi is a not-for-profit organization based in Geneva, Switzerland. Its proprietary technology interprets photo and video records to extract a single-use plastic bottle count. The 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. The data will enable decisions to facilitate environmental investments and measure the impact of waste-management initiatives.
The process begins with DJI drones piloted by sailors taking place in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC), which started from Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, on Nov. 21. DJI provided drones to Lagoon, a sailing catamaran cruiser maker, to measure plastic waste on beaches around the Caribbean.
Of the more than 300 million tons of plastic produced every year, at least 8 million tons end up in the ocean, making up 80% of all marine debris, from surface waters to deep-sea sediment. About 33,000 single-use plastic bottles are dumped in the ocean every minute of every day, affecting every coastline.
Matt Cooper, founder and CEO, AnimaMundi is driven by the need for accurate real time data to ensure investment decisions are made correctly with measurable impact. “Just before COP26 began, world leaders admitted that an annual $100-billion climate finance goal will not be reached until 2023,” Cooper said. “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.”
Lagoon has been a partner of the ARC rally since 2005. Through its Club Lagoon, the company encourages its owners to sign up to this program aiming at reducing plastic waste in our oceans thanks to data collected by drones.
“Lagoon is proud to be partnering with AnimaMundi in this exciting data collection initiative using our ‘Club Lagoon’ as part of the solution,” said Thomas Gailly, Lagoon brand director. “We have more than 6,000 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 owners’ 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.”
DJI, the global leader in developing and manufacturing civilian drones and aerial imaging technology for personal and professional use, has provided repurposed drones to capture images of the Caribbean coastline that would otherwise be out of reach. “Our drones and cameras empower people to capture amazing photos, video, and high-end professional imagery in every corner of the world,” said Olivier Mondon, senior communication manager at DJI Europe. “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.”
Initially targeting the Caribbean islands, AnimaMundi is also finalizing a partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and its Plastic Waste-Free Islands (PWFI) initiative to generate weekly total island coastal plastic waste profiles covering Grenada, St. Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda.
In 2019, with the support of the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, IUCN launched the PWFI project in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and Oceania, seeking to promote a circular economy and demonstrate effective, quantifiable solutions to address plastic leakage from small island developing states.
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