What is the Plastic Bank?

 

Do you have enough of witnessing poor countries beaches invaded with plastic? Plastic that pollutes the environment and threatens the human health? 

This is why The Plastic Bank exists and worked.

 

  1. The story

This is what David KATZ and Shaun FRANKSON thought.

The two men set up in 2013 a company called The Plastic Bank (PB), a social entreprise. Their goal is to stop ocean plastic pollution and to provide a source of revenue to poor people by collecting plastic on the ground. 

David K. was wondering if something had to be done regarding plastic in the ocean. He thought yes, especially something in countries surrounded by plastic and poor, where feeding children and building a shelter are the main concerns and recycling is beyond imagination. Why? Because this is where most of the plastic in the ocean comes from (90% of ocean plastic comes from 10 rivers, 8 in Asia and 2 in Africa), but how to do that? 

The PB is developing several programs to end plastic waste in the ocean. First, make plastic waste valuable. The PB communicates to people in Haiti, Philippines and Indonesia they are accepting plastic gathered in bags. Then, there are few options for the ones who brought them . The PB, which is a bank first of all, allows you to open a bank account easily, and transfer your plastic bag value into. As people collect it, they can receive money in compensation. Moreover, the PB settles little shops, providing medication, Wi-Fi, cell phone minutes, sustainable fuel, stoves. 

PB employees transfer the plastic into recycling infrastructures (they sort it, remove labels, caps, and reduce it to very smalls pieces). Then they sell it. They sell to companies they have dealt with, providing social plastic as a raw material. Companies like Mark and Spencer or Henkel work with PB.

The PB enables other ways to reduce everyone’s plastic impact. As a person, you can buy (hear donation here) plastic neutral certificates, which enable you to balance your plastic impact by helping the PB. As a company, you can either start to use social plastic for your production or participate to the PB effort with plastic neutral credits. PB spends donation either on making plastic too valuable to leak into the ocean or invests it in school tuition and sets medical insurance. They also build recycling infrastructures (where it doesn’t exist) to transform social plastic into recycled plastic, solding it to small businesses directly in the same area.

Thanks to this idea of plastic value, the PB has closed the plastic life circle. Poor people have an income, education and security.

 

  1. Is Plastic Bank activity encompass the whole plastic issue?

The PB collected more than 1 million kg of plastic last year, which represent around 40 millions plastic bottles. Considering 1 metric tonne of recycled plastic prevents 1,5 tonnes of carbon emission, which mean that last year they prevent 1,600 metric tonnes of carbon to enter in the atmosphere. 

However, on the PB website, in the tab “Who we are”, in the second paragraph the company wrote that Plastic Bank is a root cause solution to prevent the flow of plastic into our oceans”. Its members are dedicating their time to clean up surfaces of plastic, which means it will not end in the ocean. They are repairing damages due to our consumption. However, it makes plastic a money that does not, in the very long term, stop plastic waste. In fact, if the employees look for plastic, they don’t have interest in stopping the industry. Their economic model is based on the production of plastic and its process. The founders are right to say collecting plastic from the ocean is not better than preventing it from dropping into the sea. But to make a waste undesired valuable would not be nonsense? Furthermore, companies that are used to produce single-use plastic will not change their habits since it is cheap and valuable, the pollution responsability could feel lighter.

I don’t think so. People concerned by plastic pollution are willing to end it. Plastic surrounds streets, gardens, rivers, parcs, beaches. The PB is gathering more and more people to their cause because there are two impacts: first they give access to a simple source of revenu and secondly, they help to clean living places. Plus, the PB encourages to use only recyclable or social plastic. 

Plastic bank may have found a way not to allow poor people be plastic-neutral but more.

 

Sources:

 

Keywords : plastic, bank, law, environment, pollution, David KATZ, Shaun FRANKSON

A propos de Pierre MINIER

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