Paying with Plastic

Vancouver-based social business The Plastic Bank trades reusable old plastic for credits, opening up new value-driven streams for people in impoverished communities and simultaneously spreading the word about ridding our oceans and waterways of plastic garbage.

Author Anna Rees, 01.16.14

Vancouver-based social business The Plastic Bank trades reusable old plastic for credits, opening up new value-driven streams for people in impoverished communities and simultaneously spreading the word about ridding our oceans and waterways of plastic garbage.

With the amount of plastic produced each year, we could wrap our planet six times. Plastic garbage patches the size of Texas float through our oceans and choke our rivers and estimates of how long it actually takes for one plastic bag to degrade range from a few hundred years to a few thousand. In short, we have more plastic on this planet than we can conceivably manage. As a means of overcoming this challenge, tech entrepreneurs David Katz and Shaun Frankson are currently developing a clever new scheme designed to encourage recycling of reusable plastics.

Dubbed the Plastic Bank, the crux of the project is to set up recycling centres in impoverished communities where plastic waste is rife. People can bring in the plastics for recycling and, in exchange, receive credits which they can use to: 3D print certain products required in the community such as water filters (which can then be sold for a profit); receive repurposed necessities; or take out micro loans.

The plastic itself will be properly recycled (either onsite or sent elsewhere) and resold to companies interested in procuring recycled plastic derived from socially and environmentally conscious means.

The team just completed a crowdfunding phase, collecting 20,000 USD and will open their first centre in Lima, Peru in February 2014.

Check out the idea behind the project in the founders’ own words:

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