Kenyan team launches the world's first 100% recycled plastic sail boat - THE FLIPFLOPI PROJECT

15th September 2018, Lamu, Kenya saw the launch of the world’s first 100% recycled plastic and flip-flop boat into the Indian Ocean. The project is aptly named the Flipflopi Project, due to its construction using thousands of repurposed flip-flops and ocean plastic collected on beach clean-ups along the Kenya coast.

Exactly a year after Kenya launched the world’s most drastic plastic bags ban, a Kenyan environmental project completed its ground-breaking attempt to build a boat made entirely from re-used plastic. The Flipflopi Project - is calling for a #Plasticrevolution – its ambition is for a world without single use plastic, and to help achieve this it is working to raise awareness of the danger of the single use culture that leads to so much plastic – more than 12m tonnes a year – being dumped at sea rather than being repurposed recycled.


flipflopi boat launch

To highlight the potential of re-using plastic, the team has built an incredible 9 metre sailing dhow from over 10 tonnes of collected plastic waste which it launched in the water off Lamu, Kenya coast, with the CS for Tourism and Wildlife, Najib Balala as the guest of honour. With no precedents to learn from the Flipflopi project team, led by inspirational Lamu boat builder Ali Skanda, have had to develop pioneering techniques at every stage in order to craft the various components of the boat.


flipflopi boat build


Limiting themselves to locally available technology and materials – they have collected discarded plastic, shredded it into small pieces, then heated it and remoulded it. The resulting plastic parts have been carved by Ali and his team of traditional dhow boat builders exactly as they would do wood.

Every single element of the boat has been painstakingly constructed by hand and the whole boat has been clad in colourful sheets of recycled flipflops. These flipflops have been collected on beach clean ups on Lamu’s beaches, where they are among the most prolific items found.


flipflopi boat launch


Expedition: Once sea trails have been completed the Flipflopi will be embarking on a ground breaking 500km expedition from Lamu to Zanzibar in Tanzania in partnership with the UN Environment Clean Seas Program. Departing early 2019 the team will be visiting schools, communities and government officials along the way sharing solutions and changing mindsets along the way.


flipflopi launch

Ben Morison, Founder of the Flipflopi Project, commented: “The Flipflopi Project has always been about encouraging change in a positive way, making people smile first and then sharing the very simple message that single-use plastics really don’t make sense. To create the Flipflopi boat we used only local available resources and low-tech solutions, enabling our techniques and ideas to be copied without any barriers. So we hope people around the globe are inspired by our beautiful multicoloured boat and find their own ways to repurpose ‘already-used’ plastics.”

Ben Morison Flipflopi project


Ali Skanda, Flipflopi Boatbuilder, commented in Swahili: “Twawakongoea walimwengu na wenyeji, Tutahadharini na janga hili la palastiki duniani, Hongera waamu kwa ushirikiano wa hisia na taaluma kusambaza ujumbe huu. Asanteni.” [Translates; “Today we are proud to be a guide to the world and its inhabitants during this vital time of challenge for our ocean enviroment. I congratulate my team on their professionalism in this unusual and challenging mission and extend my gratitude to the many supporters worldwide who have helped make the worlds first recycled plastic Dhow set sail.”]


Ali Skanda Flipflopi Boatbuilder




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, an area where he spent much of his childhood. Wanting to address the issue positively, Ben saw an opportunity to create something visually engaging and fun which would help transmit the message about the impact that plastic is having on marine ecosystems, how this affects us, and most important of all – what we can do about it.

Globally the biggest emitters of ocean plastic waste are in developing world countries principally in South East Asia, and with Africa sure to follow suit with its fast emerging young consumers. Therefore from the start, a key objective of the Flipflopi Project was to engage audiences in these environments. By using only locally available resources and low tech solutions in the creation of the Flipflopi Boat – the project has been able to demonstrate solutions that are scalable in local communities.

About the Kenyan Plastic Bag Ban

On August 28 2017, Kenya launched the world’s most drastic plastic bags ban – imposing some of the stiffest fines seen and threatening up to four years’ imprisonment for anyone producing, selling – or even just carrying – a plastic bag. One year on, the authorities are claiming victory and other east African nations including Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and South Sudan, are considering following suit. Thus far over 40 countries around the world have enforced a total ban on plastic bags.


Flipflopi Recycled Plastic Dhow