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Plastic: The New Form of Currency

We all know that plastic waste has become one of humanity’s biggest challenges. We have all seen distressing images of sharks trapped in fishing nets, turtles mistaking plastic bags for jellyfish, and beaches so strewn with plastic that the sand beneath it is not visible. 

Even as you read this article, plastic is most likely within you. The average person consumes between 39,000 and 52,000 microplastics per year. It’s in our food. It’s in our water systems. It’s everywhere. In less than just fifty years, plastic has permeated our planet. 

But, did you know that in some parts of the world, plastic is being used as a force for good, as a currency, as an economic resource to drive communities forward? In these places, plastic isn’t just seen as waste. It’s seen as potential and prosperity.  

This idea was first thought up by David Katz, CEO of Plastic Bank. Founded in March 2013, Plastic Bank operates in the coastal communities of Haiti, Indonesia and the Philippines. In these communities, local people are encouraged to go out with their friends and collect plastic waste from beaches. After collecting the plastic, they take it to designated Plastic Bank recycling centres. 

In return for their efforts, they receive a premium to provide their families with necessities such as groceries, school tuition and health insurance. The plastic collected is reborn as “social plastic”, and is reintegrated into products and packaging. Partners of Plastic Bank across the world include Fa, Marks and Spencers, Advansa and Nature Box. 


Images from Plastic Bank

In the seven years since the organization first started, the results have been nothing short of phenomenal. Over 25,832,000 tons of plastic waste has been recycled, and over 5,000 Plastic Bank workers’ lives have been improved because of this initiative. Plastic Bank is expanding and will shortly start operating in Brazil. 

When great ideas are thought of and acted upon, the results can be incredible. Problems can be flipped on their heads and turned into solutions. Let’s think of even more ways that we can help save our planet from destruction. 

David Katz – keep up the good work!

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