07 Feb 2019 Press release Oceans & seas

The Flipflopi docks in Zanzibar: A final stop for marine litter

Photo by UN Environment

Stone Town, 7 February 2019 – After fourteen days and 500 kilometers on the water, the Clean Seas-Flipflopi expedition has arrived at its final destination: the island of Zanzibar. The nine-metre, rainbow-coloured dhow made entirely from re-used plastic and flip flops, collected from Kenyan towns and beaches,  is an inspiring story of innovation to overcome one of the biggest challenges facing our world today: Plastic pollution.

“We were overwhelmed by the level of engagement,” said Ben Morison, co-founder of the Flipflopi Project. “The reception from school children to local, regional and national government has been nothing short of incredible. This historic world first expedition really has started to turn the tide on plastic.”

Flipflopi welcomed in Zanzibar

Flipflopi’s team of sailors – led by captain Ali Skanda – arrived on the island just in time for the Sauti za Busara, or ‘African sounds of wisdom’ festival, a celebration of East African culture, creativity and values.

“We are delighted to welcome UN Environment’s Clean Seas-Flipflopi expedition to Zanzibar. The voyage itself, and innovative spirit behind it, are symbolic of what we can do to make a difference,” said Ali Iddi, second Vice-President of Zanzibar. “Zanzibar is committed to the fight against plastic pollution and will continue to work closely with all its citizens to find solutions to our ever-evolving environmental challenges.”

The Flipflopi expedition left the Kenyan Island of Lamu on 23 January. Along the way, the crew docked at six Kenyan and Tanzanian coastal towns, where they were welcomed by local communities, schools and government officials. The momentum of the voyage has unleashed historical commitments in every port of call, including the official closing of the Kibarani dumpsite in Mombasa and the pledge of 29 establishments including 22 hotels, to minimize their plastic waste. 

“The Clean Seas – Flipflopi expedition inspires citizens from Africa and around the world to become more aware of one of the most urgent environmental issues that we face,” said Mr Siim Kiisler, Minister of Environment of Estonia and the President of the fourth UN Environment Assembly. “By undertaking this heroic journey, the team has proven what is possible when we apply innovative solutions and a #SolveDifferent approach to the challenge of plastic pollution.”

Now that the Flipflopi has reached the final port of the expedition, the boat will be prepared for a journey to the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, where Heads of State, environment ministers, environmental activists, innovators, NGOs, and CEO’s of multinational companies will gather for the Fourth United Nations Environment Assembly – the world’s highest-level environmental forum – from 11-15 March 2019. 



About UN Environment
UN Environment is the leading global voice on the global environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UN Environment works with governments, the private sector, the civil society and with other UN entities and international organizations across the world. 

About Clean Seas
UN Environment launched the Clean Seas campaign in February 2017, with the aim of engaging governments, the general public, civil society and the private sector in the fight against marine plastic litter. The Clean Seas campaign aims to transform habits, practices, standards and policies around the globe to dramatically reduce marine litter and the harm it causes.

About the Flipflopi Project
The Flipflopi project was founded in 2016 by Ben Morison who was inspired to come up with the idea after witnessing the shocking quantities of plastic on Kenya’s beaches. Kenya saw the launch of the world’s first 100% recycled plastic and flip-flop boat into the Indian Ocean in 2018. The project is aptly named the Flipflopi Project, due to its construction using thousands of repurposed flip-flops and plastic collected on beach clean-ups along the Kenya coast.

About the UN Environment Assembly
The United Nations Environment Assembly is the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment. It addresses the critical environmental challenges facing the world today. Here, representatives from more than 190 countries will convene to outline cooperation and action for the protection and preservation of our global environment.


For more information, contact:

Mohamed Atani, UN Environment Africa Office
Clara Makenya, Tanzania National Coordinator for UN Environment