Composting in Antarctica
Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, and most isolated continent on earth, and is considered a desert because its annual precipitation can be less than 51 mm in the interior. During the long winter, only 1000 people inhabit this continent. Nonetheless, these people produce waste. One of the statements in the Antarctic Treaty reads:
''Activities in the Antarctic Treaty area shall be planned and conducted so as to avoid significant adverse effects on air or water quality''.
In other words: deal with your waste responsibly!
SEAVENTS got in touch with chef Karin Jansdotter, who will be cooking the meals on Norwegian's Troll research station for the next thirteen months. Troll is situated in Antarctica's Queen Maud Land region and was build in 1990. It can house eight residents permanently and an additional fourty visitors during the summer season. Research conducted around the station includes measurements on air, atmosphere, mercury levels and ozone levels. During summer months, researchers also monitor the ice in the surrounding area, up to the ice shelf around 235 km away.
So back to waste management. Karin, how does Troll manage its waste?
The waste is segregated like you would do at home. Food waste ends up in our composting machine and is turned into a valuable resource. Unfortunately, we can't use the compost here, because it could pose a threat to the ecosystem if we start growing our own veggies.
When we get our shipment container in January, we load all the waste in there. It is pressed and made as small as possible and send off to the ice shelf for transportation to Cape Town.
We have strict regulations regarding the ecosystem. We were asked to vacuum clean all of our clothes before packing so that we wouldn't take any seeds into Antarctica. It's like going to a new world.
The composting machine is similar to the one we use at SEAVENTS. Waste is loaded in through the hatch on top and comes out the bottom end as compost. We are stoked to see a composting machine being used in such a remote corner of the world.
Do you want to follow Karin on her Antarctic adventure? Make sure to check her out on Instagram: @jansdotter_nature_chef