Coastlines are filled with opportunities to gather up single-use, ocean-bound plastics. Regenerative economy revolves around ideas for giving plastic new life and being reintroduced as brand new products. Local communities hugging the coast, or other waterways, have the greatest experiential capacity to manage the collection of plastics. With support and infrastructure, local communities can participate in the creation of a global regenerative economy, and build up the quality of life locally. It’s the clearest example of including people, planet, and profit.
In this series, called ALL Ways, we’ll grow to know social enterprises by their charming points. We say “charming” to refer to branding and approaches that help us see another way to manage social entrepreneurship. We’ll also suggest ways to interact or use these charming points in our own involvements with social enterprise (personally and professionally).
This post is an outside observation of a company for inspiration in social enterprise interaction and engagement.
In today’s post, we look into the environmentally impact-invested Plastic Bank managing plastic collection centers around the world. Plastic Bank turns recycling plastic into an ecosystem of positive feedback.
Knowing the Company: Plastic Bank
Plastic Bank works to empower a regenerative society. Mainly focused on coastal areas, the initiative collaborates with locals to open plastic collection centers that disrupt the flow of ocean-bound plastic. Where the team stands on the cycle of plastic is plastered right on the About page: “We are turning plastic into gold by revolutionizing the world’s recycling systems to create a regenerative, inclusive, and circular plastic economy.”
All plastic collected is turned into Social Plastic® feedstock that can be reintroduced into the global manufacturing supply chain. Social Plastic feedstock is available in PET, LDPE, HDPE material types, and is offered in bale, flake, or pellet form. As plastic is given new life in packaging and products the pattern of plastic pollution becomes a closed-loop feeding circular economy. To keep track of impact, traceability and data visualization is made easier with Plastic Bank providing dashboards for transparency.
Plastic Bank proudly makes their commitment known by having the business version of accountability partners. The initiative is part of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), along with a few other commitments of groups coming together for the sake of building a circular economy.
The Plastic Bank Foundation is the charity counterpart of Plastic Bank (The Plastic Bank Recycling Corporation).
What Surprised Us
On the community side, local Collectors are paid a premium that is meant to help cover basic living necessities or education. Rates paid to Collectors are considered above-market bonuses, and Collectors are also able to access social programs from working with Plastic Bank. Plastic Bank goes into more detail on Collector perks on the Our Impact page: “In addition to an increase in income, they are also able to access social programs designed to provide basic family necessities like groceries, cooking fuel, school tuition, health insurance, digital connectivity, cell phone minutes, smartphones, and digital tablets.”
Brands working with the initiative add to the social impact on Collectors through services within Plastic Bank that are outside of using Social Plastic® in their manufacturing. Businesses can either contribute a fixed amount towards a Plastic Bank collection offset, or they can become Certified Plastic Neutral by offsetting an equivalent amount of collected ocean-bound plastic as used in their products and/or packaging. Taking impact a step further, businesses can support the impact programs that benefit Collectors.
Remember how Plastic Bank is part of numerous “accountability” groups? One of those groups is the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment. For this commitment, companies aim to eliminate unnecessary plastic, and support innovation so that all plastic is 100% reusable, recyclable, or compostable. This specific commitment is interestingly headed by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is a charity working with business, academia, policymakers, and institutions to develop and promote the idea of a circular economy. Educational content for individuals through writing, videos, and courses are available that give more perspective to the purpose of circular economy. Best part is that different collections of content caters to various stakeholders from fashion, school, manufacturing, or everyday life. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation builds touchpoints for people to be more familiar with a circular economy.
What is the benefit for good?
Up to the time of writing this ALL Ways blog post, Plastic Bank currently collected around 41.40M kg (million kilograms) of plastic with the help of 511 active branches across the globe on the coastlines of Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, and more. Collecting ocean-bound plastic restores local wildlife ecosystems and boosts local economy at such a simple cost. Plastic Bank shares that “Every $0.55 contributed prevents 1 kg of plastic from entering our oceans.”
Plastic Banks openly displays their excitement for collaboration on the Individuals page that lists ways to participate in their regenerative ecosystem: “With Plastic Bank, the world’s most progressive companies and individuals are stewarding the collection of ocean-bound plastic waste and empowering communities to thrive.”
This initiative makes it clear that anyone can join in on promoting a circular economy. Plastic Bank gives the options of contributing funds to directly offset plastic footprints. Companies can boost the offset through the Supporter Collaboration program, but individuals are also able to get a certificate to offset plastic footprints. Individuals can choose to go Plastic Neutral to offset the average human plastic footprint of 84kg, or they can go Plastic Positive to offset 168kg which counts themselves and another person.
We like to encourage actively participating with positive initiatives. Each person making their own choice to participate adds up! Whether you engage for fun, inspiration, or expression, here are our suggestions for engaging this initiative:
People Helping People Podcast is seeking methods clearly supporting an effective impact. Observations and discussions on happenings in the social enterprise community is a significant part of our contribution to social good. Continue to check in for more conversation-starting content.
Relevant podcast episodes:
- Katherine Ann Byam of Dieple Helps Companies Transition to Sustainability
- Kiss Nuka Shows Life Unfolding in a Story of Music, Artistry, and Activism
Relevant blog posts:
- ALL Ways: First Mile Links Big Brands Like PUMA with Local Plastic Collection Networks for Big Sustainable Projects
- Raise Up Social Entrepreneurship through the Act of Sharing on Social Media