These days, all metal discards in Antarctica are collected, sorted, and shipped back to the States for recycling or re-use. U.S. research station residents dutifully sort their metal into three categories to facilitate the process: aluminum (mostly beverage cans), light metal (less than 1/4″ thick), and heavy metal (over 1/4″ thick). Aluminum and light metals are crushed into bales at McMurdo’s Waste Barn, while the heavy stock is loose-loaded onto a ship in big flatrack containers.
These protocols were put in place through the Antarctic Conservation Act of 1991 whose waste management regulations successfully reduced the impact of science research on the continent. I hope to convey the importance of these practices and show how Antarctica can be a model for managing waste in other environments by re-using these Antarctic discards in my artwork.