Next Step: From Sea to Shelf

Ocean plastic barrier in Freetown, Sierra Leone

Funded by

In this project, Ocean Plastic Forum has set out, together with our partners, to install a floating waste barrier that prevents plastic waste from flowing into the ocean in Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone on the Southwest coast of Western Africa.

Furthermore, the project entails the establishment of a waste collection centre and value chain to handle collected plastics from Freetown and its maritime environment.

Photo: © Engineers without Borders (OPF member)

© Ocean Plastic Forum


The capital of Sierra Leone, Freetown, is struggling with the growing inflow of plastic. Waste management is at a very basic level, or non-existent: Around 80% of the 40,600 tons/year of plastic waste is currently being dumped on streets and rivers where it flows down to coastal communities and then into the ocean.

The Aberdeen Lagoon is a hotspot of this problem, where large amounts of plastic from Freetown end up. Subsequently, the plastics are washed away by the tide each day, eventually ending up in the Atlantic Ocean.

Photo: © Engineers without Borders (OPF member)

© Engineers Without Borders


The central aim is to successfully construct and ensure the operation of a floating barrier together with a replicable value-chain model that can be expanded to other coastal communities. Not only in Sierra Leone but along the coasts of Africa.


Project description

In the “Freetown Lagoon Clean-up Initiative”, Ocean Plastic Forum and the project partners are on the brink of designing, constructing, and installing a floating barrier allowing continuous capture of floating plastics at the north-eastern banks of the Aberdeen Lagoon near the Gemata community in the western part of Freetown. This also entails the establishment of a pre-sorting and storage facility for collected marine plastics in the Gemata community. An important part of the activities alongside the barrier consists of capacity-building that enables Gemata community members to earn an income from the collection of plastics from the barrier.

It is estimated, that installing the barrier and support collection on the shores of the Gemata community will enable the collection of a total of 395 tons per year of plastic waste. An overall target and essential part of the project is consequently to design, build, and run a plastic waste collection centre that can purchase, manage, and recycle mismanaged plastics deriving both from the barrier at the Gemata community and also from in-land Freetown.

This entails the establishment of a financially sustainable value chain encompassing the collection, sorting, re- and upcycling, and sale of plastics contributing to a long-term effective plastic waste collection infrastructure in Freetown.


Currently, the project engages the following partners and members:

Latest developments

Next stop: Freetown, Sierra Leone

The work on building a barrier to prevent plastic from flowing into the Atlantic Ocean from the capital of Sierra Leone, Freetown, is progressing. The project is being carried out in collaboration with Engineers Without Borders, DIS - CREADIS Engineering Solutions...

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