By Hannah Schartmann.
Shaun Frankson is Co-Founder of the Plastic Bank – a project to stop ocean plastic pollution. The motivation of this project is obvious: every minute of every day, tons of plastic get into the ocean worldwide. This amounts to around eight million tons of plastic per year. It is estimated that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2025.
In order to prevent plastic pollution, the Plastic Bank has established the following recycle system in developing countries: The local community can collect plastic from their environment and bring it to their local Plastic Bank branch. The collected plastic can be exchanged for rewards, such as cash, water, cooking fuel, medical insurance or even school tuition for their children. Collected plastic is recycled and used by global partners of the Plastic Bank to make new products. The reason behind this concept is that 80% of ocean plastic originates in developing countries, like Haiti, the Philippines and Indonesia.
For example, the Philippines are the 3rd biggest plastic polluter in the world, only behind China and Indonesia. In these countries there are often a limited infrastructure and usually informal and unregulated recycling systems. The traditional market prices for plastic are too low to motivate the community to collect it. Once the true value of plastic is revealed, it becomes too valuable to discard and to leak it into the ocean. Plastic of any type can be collected, such as plastic bags, bottles or polytester textiles.
The first plastic bank opened in Haiti in 2014, the poorest country in the western hemisphere. There are many different kinds of collectors, like full-time or part-time recyclers, who want to increase their income. However, the majority of collectors are women. And this idea is working: Over 1 million kg (2.39 Million pounds) of ocean plastic has been collected in just one single year. Since the end of May 2019, over 4,535,000 kg plastic has been collected so far – an impressive amount!
If you would like to stop Ocean Plastic and help the Plastic Bank, please visit their website: https://www.plasticbank.com/