A bank accepting plastic as medium of exchange. This is the short version of David Katz’s idea. In March 2013 he founded the “Plastic Bank”. The social enterprise claims to fight both: the plastic waste that gets into our seas every year and the poverty in developing regions. In the focus of the founder are third world and emerging countries, which do not have a functioning waste supply.
What is Social Plastic?
That our oceans are critically polluted with plastic is no longer a secret. Social Plastic helps to reduce this pollution. It is plastic that has been verified by the Plastic Bank and for which the collector has received a premium. These bonuses are called Plastic Bank Bonus Points and are assigned and authenticated via the Plastic Bank App. The app uses blockchain technology – probably the safest and most reliable solution for a globally scalable social project.
Plastic becomes a currency
People who collect discarded plastic can trade the bottles, plastic containers and bags at the Plastic Bank. For example against electricity for mobile phones, against Internet use or even for cash. Plastics create value before the waste reaches waters or oceans. Founder David Katz wants to use this exchange to raise awareness of the value of sculpture. At the same time, plastic collecting offers a perspective to people with a very low standard of living. The dispensed plastic is crushed, transported away and recycled.
Partnership with Germany
For the dissemination of Plastic Banks two factors are decisive in addition to the previous successes of the founders. On the one hand, the crowd: the project asks for likes and help on social media. On the other hand, economically strong partners who accept the recycled product. The first German partner is the company Lush. For the production of packaging for their beauty products they use social plastic e.g. shampoo bottles.
Henkel is also the first global consumer goods company to enter into a partnership with the social enterprise Plastic Bank. The goal is to stop plastic waste in the oceans while creating new opportunities for people in poverty. As part of the partnership, new plastic collection centers will be built in Haiti. There is great potential due to the lack of infrastructure for waste management. And this is how the system works: the local population receives money, donations in kind or social benefits in exchange for the collected plastic. The plastic waste is sorted and processed and can then be returned to the recycling value chain as Social Plastic. The verification of the material by Plastic Bank confirms that collectors have received an above-average price for plastic waste. In addition, Henkel is working to use recycled plastic in its own product packaging in the future.
Support is the key
David Katz’s plan has the makings of revolution. But the amount of plastic waste it has to fight is around 8 million tons a year. Plastic Banks extremely ambitious goal of freeing the oceans from plastic waste and ending poverty is still a long way off. But the attention for the company and its projects is growing daily. That’s why it’s important to leverage the power of social media and raise awareness of social startups like the plastic bank. The support of consumers buying social plastic products also plays an important role. If you are interested in the topic, it is recommended to watch David Katz‘s Ted Talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/david_katz_the_surprising_solution_to_ocean_plastic?language=de#t-76974