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Cleaning up Plastic

Plastic Bank Is Cleaning Up The Planet Of All Plastic, One Country At A Time

When it comes to climate change, one of the biggest man-made contributions lies in our single-use plastic consumption. Plastic floods our oceans, litters our forests, and distributes micro plastic pieces throughout our bodies. Efforts are always increasing to make the planet more green, and less artificial, now, Plastic Bank, a relatively new “social enterprise” based in Canada, is monetizing recycling plastic to benefit the planet, and the people in more underdeveloped areas of the world in which plastic creates the most issues. 

According to CNN, the overall goal of Plastic Bank, is to motivate individuals in underdeveloped areas of the world to collect and recycle plastic products in exchange for cash, goods, and services such as food, clean water resources, and even tuition for children struggling to afford education. 

“After collection, plastic is weighed, sorted, chipped, melted into pellets and sold on as ‘raw material feedstock’ to be manufactured into everything from bottles for cleaning products to clothing. I saw an abundance; I saw an opportunity. We inherently reveal the value in this material,” CEO David Katz told an audience at the Sustainable Brands Oceans conference in Porto, Portugal. 

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Katz went on to explain that the company began back in 2013, and started in one of the poorest countries on the planet, Haiti. Now, there’s over 2,000 individuals working for Plastic Bank in the country and all those individuals are, on average, 63% above the poverty line thanks to income they’ve made recycling! The business is able to pay its workers through an app based system, which has also helped a lot of those individuals open their first bank account, (CNN). 

Plastic Bank has reported on their website that since 2013, the company has expanded into the Philippines, Indonesia, and most recently Brazil. Through their efforts and now multiple collaborations with major corporations such as S.C. Johnson, they’ve recycled over 13 million pounds of plastic! The company also reported that in 2020 they plan to expand into parts of Egypt, Colombia, and Vietnam. Egypt and Vietnam have been on the Bank’s radar for quite some time, both the Nile River in Egypt, and the Mekong River in Vietnam are responsible for up to 90% of plastic debris travelling into the planets seas, (CNN). 

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While the business is constantly growing and helping reduce the massive amounts of plastic littering our natural world, there needs to be more done on the opposite end, in terms of plastic manufacturing and distribution. In order to truly clean up the planet and help make a real major difference, more plastic alternatives need to be introduced and mass produced. Single-use plastic is one of the number one culprits in terms of pollution, general society can help by switching to more paper-based, or any other biodegradable alternative for those single use products.  

“If we add large streams of other bio-materials … and we eliminate the value of what’s already on the planet [single use plastic], and nobody goes to collect any of it, and no one wants to trade it, then what? An increase in plastic alternatives has to occur while not interrupting or degrading the value of the plastic that’s already on the planet. What we need to do is get away from traditional capitalism where shareholders benefit first. Companies that stand forward to repair the damage will win. The regeneration economy is emerging,” Katz discussed at the conference

At the end of the day, Katz says his company’s mission is clear, we know the world has all the resources, and means to end excessive plastic use and production, and increase much greener options while remaining economically stable. It’s about everyone coming together and agreeing upon a plan to help save our planet and all the individuals habituating it.