White Desert Environment and Sustainability Policy

White Desert is committed to the protection of the environment in Antarctica. We take steps to reduce our environmental footprint, protect Antarctic wildlife and landscape, respect and support Antarctic science; the intrinsic values of Antarctica. Our camps are designed to be temporary and can be dismantled without a footprint in Antarctica. We ensure our activities have a less than minor or transitory impact by following environmental mitigation measures set out in our IEEs, preparing Environmental Management Plans which take these mitigation measures into account and carrying out environmental monitoring. We strive to be an innovator and sector leader in environmental management and sustainability in Antarctica.


Annual Environmental and Sustainability Monitoring

We carry out environmental monitoring each season in order to monitor environmental compliance, sustainability performance and  enable us to continually improve. This ensures that our activities have a less than minor or transitory impact.

We have an Annual Environmental and Sustainability Monitoring and Reporting Programme in Antarctica which includes:

  • Independent Environmental Inspections
  • Environmental Management Plan Checklists
  • Air Quality Monitoring
  • Waste Management and Monitoring
  • Fuel Use Monitoring
  • Water Use Monitoring
  • Annual Carbon Monitoring and Reporting, Reduction and Off-setting Programme
  • Renewable Energy Initiatives

You can find out more about some of our latest findings in the latest White Desert Annual Environmental and Sustainability Monitoring Report.

Independent Environmental Inspections and Environmental Management Plan Checklists

An independent environmental and permit inspection was most recently carried out in January 2023, in accordance with the Antarctic Protocol, the White Desert Antarctic permit as well as IAATO requirements. This is in addition to the White Desert Environmental Management Plan Checklists completed internally.

All recommended actions and findings were addressed in Antarctica at the time where practical.

Additional actions for continual improvement have been assigned to the relevant White Desert team members to be taken forward in the 2023-2024 season. The findings have also been used to update the White Desert Environmental Management Plans accordingly.

In January 2019, an Antarctic Permit inspection was carried out by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office as well as IAATO.

Air Quality Monitoring

Air quality in Antarctica is pristine. Antarctica is the only continent without any exceedances of air quality parameters against the WHO standards. The atmosphere is virtually free of anthropogenic pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and man-made particulate matter. The pristine air quality needs to be taken into account not only as part of the environmental assessment process but also during the environmental management and operations we undertake in Antarctica. Operating in a pristine air quality environment highlights the important benefits of using SAF for aircraft operations in Antarctica, through the reduction of air pollutants. SAF provides the added benefit of lower deposition of particles such as soot on the Antarctic blue-ice environment.


The results found that NO2 , O3and SO2 were in line with other comparable monitoring carried out in Antarctica. White Desert will establish a programme of air quality monitoring in the vicinity of Wolf’s Fang Runway and Skiway. It is proposed to continue and expand the air quality monitoring at Wolf’s Fang in order to assess and measure changes in the local air quality through the use of SAF blended fuels in future seasons. By establishing the baseline this season, we will be able to compare the use of traditional JetA1 with SAF and identify any local air quality benefits. This is an important area for further research and monitoring. The results also indicate that it is important to consider mobile and stationary sources of emissions such as generators and skidoos with the use of efficient plant and equipment.


Waste management and handling is carried out in accordance with the Antarctic Protocol and set out in the White Desert Waste Management Plan for staff to follow. In accordance with the Antarctic Protocol, waste is removed from Antarctica on an annual basis at the end of each season and is shipped to Cape Town for further handling. All waste is removed from Antarctica, other than grey water and liquid human waste which are disposed of in suitable pits or treated, in accordance with the Antarctic Protocol requirements. In order to reduce potential impacts arising from waste, we adopt a waste strategy which will: · Minimise the quantity of waste produced in Antarctica through reducing packaging materials and the use of re-usable materials · Eradicate single-use plastics from our supply chain, wherever possible · Continue to monitor waste and set annual targets for continual improvements in waste management · Continue to monitor and audit waste management contractors in Cape Town and ensure Duty of Care is complied with

2022-2023 Diversion from Landfill Rate

The total quantity of waste removed from Antarctica this season was approximately 30 tonnes. We have achieved diversion from landfill for most waste streams through sewage treatment, composting, re-use, re-purposing or recycling. Of the eleven waste streams, nine (80% of waste streams) have been diverted from landfill. Diversion from landfill includes food waste composting, repurposing of wooden pallets and scrap metal recycling. Previous seasons were impacted by the global pandemic and we have moved to a new waste contractor, with different reporting parameters. This year will therefore form a baseline for future comparisons in relation to waste.

Renewable use

In Antarctica, current renewable energy use includes the following · Camp Echo - a system which uses photovoltaic panels and inverters to power the heaters for pods has been found to significantly reduce fuel use · Wolf’s Fang Runway - a system which uses photovoltaic panels and inverters to power the generators for melting snow has been found to significantly reduce fuel use required to melt snow

Annual Carbon Monitoring and reporting, reduction and off-setting programme Carbon and GHG monitoring

White Desert carries out fuel use monitoring for all activities. This enables us to prepare an annual carbon or Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions report which is carried out in accordance with the Carbon Neutral Protocol, a global standard for carbon neutral programmes.

As an aviation based tourism and logistics company, aviation continues to represent the main fuel consumption for White Desert (90%).

The majority (over 73%) of fuel use is for the inter-continental flights between Cape Town and Antarctica. This is followed by the internal flights within Antarctica with (17%).


Aviation will continue to be the main area where significant reductions will be made through improvements in efficiency as well as the use of SAF.

Even though plant and vehicles represent a lower percentage of fuel use and carbon emissions, it is also important to consider mobile and stationary sources of emissions such as generators and skidoos with the use of efficient plant and equipment to reduce impacts on local air quality.

Please read our Carbon Footprint Report, 2021- 2022 season, in line with Carbon Neutral Protocol.

GHG footprint Report White Desert 2021-2022
  • Science Support

    At the heart of White Desert’s mission is the desire to create a positive impact on Antarctica’s future through its tourism and science logistics programmes.

  • Operational Areas

    White Desert's operational areas include deep field camps, fuel depot, Atka Bay and Wolf's Fang Runway. Discover the terrain and unique fauna that inhabit each environment.

  • Environmental Governance

    With 18 years of operational experience in Antarctica, we have an in depth understanding of what is truly required to preserve Antarctica’s environmental equilibrium.

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