The Plastic Bank is seeing the “good” in the “not so good” so to speak – plastic waste to be precise. The Plastic Bank monetises plastic collected in developing countries by turning it into a currency that can be exchanged for cash, services or a menu of goods.
Acting as a broker, the bank enables collectors in developing countries to exchange plastic waste for items they require.
At exchange banks collectors can choose items such as sustainable cooking fuels, 3D printed products, access to WiFi and solar power to charge their mobile phones. They can also open an account and secure micro-finance loans in exchange for a stove for their household.
According to The Plastic Bank, 80% of plastic refuse in developing countries comes from areas with high levels of poverty and no effective waste management systems.
The Plastic Bank also gives locals access to 3D printers and plastic extruders to help them create useful things like water filters and wrenches and become micro entrepreneurs.
The recycled plastic is then sold to companies as Social Plastic™, valuable recycled plastic that collectors crush into pellets. The Plastic Bank makes money by encouraging big brands and businesses to buy it as a sustainable solution that alleviates poverty while cleaning up the environment.
The first Plastic Bank was piloted in 2013 in Lima, Peru and the project has now rolled out on a larger scale in Haiti. The plan is to have multiple centres located near the South China Sea, in Indonesia, Africa and India.
The Vancouver-based business, which was founded by David Katz and Shaun Frankson, has partnered with LUSH Cosmetics who are creating bottles of their product line with the Social Plastic recycled feedstock. The Plastic Bank is aiming to get major corporations to follow.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. Follow Rosa on Twitter.