Sustainably Managing Plastic Waste on St Helena to Minimize Marine Debris

Saint Helena Government’s Environmental Management Division (EMD) has received a grant of £72,000 from DEFRA (the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs). The grant is to work in partnership with the St Helena National trust and SHAPE to establish a monitoring and education programme, which aims to reduce the quantity of single use plastic being used and reduce the amount of plastic entering the marine ecosystem. The grant will also fund the establishment of plastic recycling and reuse initiatives and a reduction in the cost of waste disposal.

The grant will be used to:

  • Establish a marine debris monitoring programme along St Helena’s coastline:
    Conducting a preliminary assessment of the uses of the marine environment and identify sources of marine debris which results from these uses and selecting key locations around St Helena to survey to monitor marine debris.
  • Quantify use of single use plastic on island and how much enters St Helena waters:
    Assess the types and amount of single use plastics being imported to the island, calculate how much plastic is properly disposed of on island and conduct a life cycle assessments of the plastic items imported onto the island.
  • Educate and raise awareness of marine debris and its negative impact:
    Develop and deliver a primary and secondary school education programme on marine debris. Develop and deliver a public and wider stakeholder engagement programme, and social marketing campaign to raise awareness of the problems associated with marine debris and inform ways to minimise plastic use and how to properly dispose of plastic waste.
  • Promote and incentivise innovative reuses of plastics in island:
    Assess the viability of low cost recycling of plastics on island and regeneration of different plastic waste into new, useful products. Implement a plastic waste collection and sorting service for domestic and commercial.

This project fundamentally supports the successful delivery of St Helena’s National Goal ‘Altogether Greener’ and the Strategic Objective ‘Protecting the natural environment by conserving biodiversity, preventing, minimising or mitigating against pollution, waste, littering, harmful materials and organisms and conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of the Island’.

Our Project Partners

The lead organisation is EMD with its project partners SHAPE and SHNT. All are keen to encourage self-sustainable, environmental best practice which makes best use of local resources.

Environmental Management Division (EMD), SHG:

This Division is part of the Environment and Natural Resources Directorate within the St Helena Government. This Division leads through creation and implementation of policy and regulation, and provides advice, underpinned by clear, transparent, evidence-based research. Day to day activities include; fieldwork, laboratory work, data analysis, report writing and awareness raising on all aspects of the environment to feed into wider island decision making.
The Environmental Management Division of the Environment and Natural Resources Division, within the St Helena Government, is also responsible for all waste management on the island, and is pro-actively seeking ways in which to deliver sustainable solutions for waste minimization and landfill reduction.

St Helena Active Participation Enterprise (SHAPE):


This is a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO). SHAPE provides training and work experience for 50% of the disabled working age residence on island. It has been in operation for the last ten years and has grown from developing opportunities for the disabled and disadvantages members of the community, to a semi commercial business using recycled materials. SHAPE is governed by a Board of Directors (elected annually) and guided by Articles of Association. SHAPE works in partnership with the Safe Guarding Directorate (SGD) of St Helena Government through a service Level Agreement to deliver a fully comprehensive support programme to meet the needs of the disabled and vulnerable members of the community. SHAPE has successfully established a paper recycling facility. Not only are they the only paper recycling facility on island, but the concept of paper recycling has been one that they have worked on over the years. With the help of project funding from Darwin Plus they now have a small but growing enterprise, equipped with mechanised equipment and adequate production spaces. Currently producing products such as; books, jewellery, bowls, envelopes, fire bricks, insolation boards and other various innovative products from recycled paper to supply the niche island market and visitors of the island.

St Helena National Trust (SHNT):


This NGO is responsible for the conservation of St Helena’s built and natural heritage. The National Trust Marine Team (funded by the Blue Marine Foundation) is championing the St Helena’s MPA to ensure it maximises its conservation gains, and aims to support SHG, during the implementation of the SHG Marine Management Plan. Their work areas include research, education and outreach and working with relevant stakeholders to improve the overall sustainability of the local one-by-one fishery. This project will develop and expand the marine debris collection, research, education and engagement programmes that SHNT have already initiated.