Can recycled ocean plastic change the world?
NewsWednesday 10 December 2014
Plastic is out of control, and well-travelled sailors will confirm that plastic bottles and bags are littering our oceans, beaches and waterways. But what if all of that wildlife-endangering waste plastic could be used as a type of currency, and ultimately used to help reduce poverty?
This is the thinking behind Plastic Bank, which is campaigning for harvesting and repurposing waste plastics and using them, in conjunction with 3D printing, as "Social Plastic". It’s a movement that is gathering momentum in the US, and could lead to cleaner, safer waters for everyone to enjoy in years to come.
So having been launched by a group of US entrepreneurs in 2013, The Plastic Bank is setting up plastic repurposing centers around the world, where there’s an abundance of both waste plastic and poverty. Peru is a starting point but other areas of focus stretch from Alaska to Indonesia.
Plastic Bank says:
“We are empowering people to harvest plastics as a currency they can exchange for tools, household items, parts & 3D printing.
Our mission is to remove plastic waste from the land, oceans and waterways while helping people ascend from poverty and transition into entrepreneurship.
Our self-sustaining business model empowers the poor to harvest plastics as a currency for various opportunities including education, training, necessities and 3D printing services."
Plastic Bank ran a successful crowdfunding campaign this year, raising over $20,000 toward the project's initiative, which aims to open its first pilot project in Lima, Peru, in February of 2014.
"The Plastic Bank is a plastics return, repurposing, and 3D printing center strategically located in areas around the world with both an abundance of plastic waste & poverty.
Because there are so many different types of plastic, recycling all of them can seem like a monumental task, but Dr. Mike Biddle, who is on the Plastic Bank Board of Directors, may have the answer, as he's developed a comprehensive 30 step plastics recycling system that can produce plastic pellets for reuse by industry, using less than a tenth of the energy it currently takes to produce virgin plastic.
For sailors around the world, who love and respect the oceans, this initiative is very good news. To find out more about Plastic Bank click here.