Plastic Bank, a Social Enterprise based in Vancouver, BC, has created a groundbreaking and yet so simple approach to stopping plastic from entering the ocean. In collaboration with various sponsors, Plastic Bank currently operates in Haiti, the Philippines, and Indonesia. And, as it is growing, plans to expand across the globe to locations next in line such as Brazil, South Africa, the Vatican, Panama, and India.
Founded in 2013 by Shaun Frankson and David Katz, their mission builds on two paradigms. In order to prevent an ever growing amount of plastic from flowing into the ocean, the plastic tap, aka the production of new, virgin plastic needs to be turned off.
The second paradigm is the question of why. Why is plastic landing in the ocean? Because we still see the plastic as waste, as useless and not as a valuable resource with a true cost. And this is the shift. Plastic Bank is showing the actual value of plastic by monetizing it. This way people, mainly the poor, are incentivized to collect and receive its actual value by handing it back into the value chain which is recycling.
Plastic Bank fights ocean plastic and alleviates extreme poverty by empowering disenfranchised communities to turn pollution into wealth. Collected plastic can be exchanged by local residents for rewards such as cash, digital tokens, school tuition, healthcare, and insurance. The plastic is then recycled into a raw material called Social Plastic® and used to manufacture new products. This creates a circular economy and here’s how it works.
Once the plastic is recycled, it is sold to companies to use as Social Plastic® and this is how Plastic Bank makes some of the world’s largest cooperations such as Aldi, Henkel, Logitech, Shell, and ScJohnson help contribute to providing the value in plastic. Plastic then simply becomes too valuable to trash.
When challenged with the question of how to remove the risk and potential criminal energy in their recycling system, Plastic Bank partnered with IBM and is using Blockchain, as “a secure and trusted data storage system, to instantly approve and record any exchange of value technology in order to provide a safe and trusted token based currency and a token based exchange system” explains Shaun Frankson.
“Mostly aimed at collectors, it not only tracks how much they’ve collected but also provides a digital wallet in which they are able to store their earnings. Especially for people who don’t have access to a bank account and for whom it’s dangerous to carry cash. At many local stores in the areas where Plastic Bank has set up recycling stations, payments through the blockchain app are accepted.”
In short “Plastic Bank offers an internationally recognized, root-cause solution to ocean plastic: by effectively monetizing plastic waste and revealing the lost economic value in plastic pollution, plastic becomes too valuable to discard.” David Katz
Check out these Plastic Neutral products which have been manufactured with Social Plastic®.