Antarctic Life

A frozen outlook on life on the ice

Wednesday Walkaround: Week 1 - Waste Management

Halley VI, Brunt Ice Shelf, Antarctica 75°36'36"S 26°16'14"W

Temperature: -19.7°C

Wind Speed: 23 kts ENE


Today marks a slight change to the format of my blog posts. In combination with posts on twitter, I will be talking about various daily tasks, bits of station kit, or science routines for everyone to see what life is like during winter on station. Each Wednesday I will do what I have termed a "Wednesday Walkaround" whereby I will post a picture and brief tweet about the topic of the day before explaining things in a little more detail here.

First up is waste management.

Together with the winter station leader Jess, I am responsible for all of the waste duties (as well as being the doctor, life scientist and postman) on station once separated. The vast majority of what we use gets recycled back in the UK, however waste that is unable ends up as landfill in the Falkland Islands (the main port for the ships).

Waste is stored in large one-tonne bags or oil drums which are kept on the bridge for ease of access until they are full, whereby we then transfer it onto a sledge ready to be transferred to the ship when it arrives. As you can see in the photo, we winch the waste down off the bridge onto a sledge waiting below.

Bridge waste managementThe crane and waste cooking oil (orange) and glass drums

There are numerous bins throughout the station to separate waste into, namely plastic, metals, cardboard, paper, glass and general. The person on gash (cleaning) duties each day is responsible for transferring this waste into the relevant bags/drums on the bridge. I had been asked on twitter what job people enjoy doing least on station, the leading contender for this would definitely have to be gash! Having said that, I actually quite enjoy it which I know will be hard to believe for anyone who knows me well - I guess it's something different to break the week up a bit.

Some waste, such as cardboard and plastic is compacted into bails and banded before it is transferred into the larger containers, whilst others are transferred on an as-required basis, such as used cooking oil and engine oil.

Recycling containersOne-tonne bags waiting to be filled with separated waste

Miscellaneous items, such as batteries and electrical items are sorted separately and boxed up to be shipped back to the UK.

So there we have it, a short but hopefully insightful view into how we deal with waste on station. I will aim to keep updating every Wednesday with a different topic, feel free to make a suggestion either in the comments below, or on twitter. You can keep track of the Wednesday Walkabout series by using the tags at the bottom of this article to view other entries once they have been written.