The past few years have seen a steady growth in tourism to the Maldives – a stunning archipelago in the Indian Ocean, known for its luxury resorts, white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters. And in 2013 it welcomed more than a million visitors. But there is a dark and ugly consequence of this influx of high-end travellers… A half-hour boat ride from the Maldives’ capital of Male, an artificial island known as Thilafushu mars the seascape with mountains of waste. The municipal landfill, nicknamed ‘rubbish island’ receives almost 400 tons of trash a year, and most of it comes from luxury hotels. Filmmaker Alison Teal, accompanied by Australian photographer Mark Tipple and colleague Sarah Lee, documented the amount of plastic waste that has washed up on the idyllic white shores of the Maldives, known as a luxury destination. (Alison’s Adventures/Caters News Agency).
Lying just kilometres from the exclusive beaches sits Thilafushi, or as the locals call it, Rubbish Island. Originally a lagoon of shallow coral reefs, it was turned into an artificial island in 1992 by the government who saw it as a solution to the Maldives burgeoning rubbish problem.