We’re supporting Plastic Bank to fight plastic pollution

Published by Jacob Wedderburn-Day on

Preventing plastic waste from entering our oceans with Plastic Bank

You don’t have to have seen Seaspiracy to know that plastic waste in the environment is one of our world’s biggest problems today. Plastic Bank is taking a stand against ocean plastic pollution and poverty, and we’re proud to support them.

Every day we pollute our oceans with approximately 8 million pieces of plastic. This results in the deaths of over 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 1 million seabirds every year. What’s more, every piece of plastic that ends up in our environment rather than being recycled means we have to make new plastic to replace it. This adds to our carbon dioxide emissions. 

Plastic production is forecast to grow by 60% by 2030 and to treble by 2050. So we need to do something about this problem now. 

This is why we are supporting Plastic Bank to fund the sustainable collection of plastic waste and support impoverished coastal communities around the world. Every Treepoints member prevents 3 plastic bottles from entering the ocean every month with Plastic Bank. 

Who are Plastic Bank?

You might be wondering about the story behind Plastic Bank?

On a scuba diving trip, David Katz (founder and CEO of Plastic Bank) found plastic bags, bottles and straws and decided it was time to take action. In 2013, together with Shaun Frankson, he founded Plastic Bank.

Plastic bank empowers the regenerative society. They are on a mission to stop ocean plastic while improving the lives of collector communities. 

They build ethical recycling ecosystems in coastal communities and reprocesses the materials for reintroduction into the global manufacturing supply chain. Collectors receive a premium price for the materials they collect. This premium helps them provide basic family necessities such as groceries, cooking fuel, school tuition, and health insurance.

Plastic Bank focuses in particular on the collection of ocean-bound plastic waste. This means plastic that has not been landfilled or recycled and would otherwise end up in our waterways and cause damage to our natural environment. Any plastic waste collected within 50km of waterways or coastal areas is ocean-bound plastic.

To date Plastic Bank has prevented over 1 billion plastic bottles from entering our oceans. That’s equivalent to 20 million kilograms of plastic waste. 

How does it work?

  1. Plastic Bank sets up collection locations and employs local citizens to manage these ecosystems
  2. Residents in the region collect plastic from their environment (particularly from the coastline) and brings it to their local Plastic Bank branch
  3. In return for collected plastic they receive money, fresh food, clean water, cellular service, cooking oil or school tuition. 
  4. The plastic collected through Plastic Bank is recycled and sold at a premium as Social Plastic. 

Why does preventing plastic from entering the ocean matter? 

At present, 80% of ocean plastic comes from land-based sources. This is called plastic leakage. Plastic leakage results from inadequate plastic waste collection systems and a lack of economically viable recycling options for mixed plastics. 

The best way to reduce plastic waste is to create sustainable recycling ecosystems. Plastic Bank creates value in plastic waste for people, incentivising plastic collection. This in turn brings numerous environmental benefits:

  • Reducing marine debris in the ocean and waterways.
  • Protecting sea animals and birds who are put at risk by plastic pollution.
  • Recycling plastic waste lessens the amount of new raw materials used.
  • Reducing emissions from fossil fuels burned to make new plastic. 

In addition to environmental benefits, Plastic Bank also ensures that their work brings social and economic benefits for communities living in poverty around the world. 

The Sustainable Development benefits of plastic collection

Every day, more than 17,000 collectors around the world bring their plastic to Plastic Bank. They exchange this for premiums that provide basic family necessities like groceries, cooking fuel, health insurance and school tuition. 

Collectors are paid a Social Plastic premium in addition to the market plastic value. This ensures a stable, liveable income. 

Plastic Bank also provides the ability for local entrepreneurs to set up and operate a convenience store for the poor. Here, plastic waste is a currency. This improves the sustainability of the recycling ecosystem, as local people are involved at every level. 

Where does Plastic Bank work?

Plastic Bank currently works in Haiti, Brazil, Indonesia, the Philippines and Egypt. 

They choose these countries based on extremely high rates of plastic pollution and poverty. Here, a lack of disposal infrastructure and greater dependency on single-use packaging results in a disproportionate amount of pollution. 

How can we be sure of our impact? 

Plastic Bank’s certified blockchain platform secures the entire transaction and provides real-time data visualization – allowing for transparency and traceability. 

In this way, economic development created in vulnerable regions is not threatened by corruption or fraud. 

What is Social Plastic? 

Plastic Bank recycles the plastic that they receive, and it is reborn as Social Plastic which is reintegrated into products and packaging. So this creates a closed-loop supply chain while helping those who collect it. 

All Social Plastic is recycled plastic, but not all recycled plastic is Social Plastic. This is because Social Plastic provides important social benefits in addition to helping the environment. With Social Plastic, impoverished communities gain access to stable income, local economies are boosted. They make life necessities, such as food, water, and electricity more accessible for people.

Calculate your plastic footprint

The average plastic footprint of a western citizen is 84kg. You can calculate your exact plastic footprint using Plastic Bank’s calculator. Based on questions about your primary mode of transport, diet, and lifestyle choices, you can find out how much plastic you consume. 

How your Treepoints membership collects plastic

Every Treepoints membership includes preventing plastic from entering the ocean with Plastic Bank. We quantify this in plastic bottles to help you visualise your impact.

  • Fern membership (£3.25 / month) = 10 plastic bottles collected and recycled per month.
  • Green membership (£6.50 / month) = 20 plastic bottles collected and recycled per month.
  • Jade membership (£9.75 per month) = 30 plastic bottles collected and recycled per month.

Our business members are also preventing plastic pollution on behalf of their employees. 

  • Local commuters = 10 plastic bottles collected and recycled per employee per month.
  • Regular travellers = 20 plastic bottles collected and recycled per employee per month.
  • Jet setters = 30 plastic bottles collected and recycled per employee per month. 

Get started today with your climate positive journey. Head over to Treepoints to find out more and pick the plan that’s right for you. 

Read next: Planet Positive Impact: Diversifying your climate action