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Plastic Bank - Turning one man's trash into another mans treasure

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by Startacus Admin

Plastic Bank, Turning one mans trash into another mans treasure

Now for one of those great win/win/win ideas that we're so fond of here at Startacus... and this time its a really good one 

Vancouver man David Katz has had a marvelous brainwave which has the potential to sort out a number of concerning issues which are particularly prevalent within less economically developed nations.  He has devised a system designed to remove plastic waste from the world’s oceans, beaches and waterways while simultaneously empowering people in poverty to raise their standard of living… but just how does he plan to do all this?  

Well… David is the founder (and self-styled ‘Chief, cook and bottle-washer’) of shiny new organization Plastic Bank which has embarked upon the mighty challenge of turning waste plastic (bottles, containers and such) into a form of currency. Starting with the Peruvian coastal capital Lima, David and his team are setting about establishing strategically placed plastic banks in impoverished areas of the world where locals can exchange plastic which they have gathered for a range of useful items and services. The plan is that the plastic will be traded in return for education and credits that can be used for the printing of 3D products, repurposed necessities and/or micro-finance loans.  

“But hang on one bottle-picking-minute here… where is the money for the scheme going to come from?  Surely waste plastic doesn’t actually have any value?”

Well, it would seem that it does... so much so that Plastic Bank has placed “revealing the value of plastic waste” as their chief mission.  Once people have deposited their plastic the organization will recycle the material within the local site or (if this is not possible) ship it to another plant where the process could be carried out.  David reckons that local people will be able to receive goods up to the value of 25c per lb of waste plastic that they collect- a figure which has been pushed up by the very concept of Plastic Bank itself.

Plastic Bank, Turning one mans trash into another mans treasure(This is the really clever bit)  - David has recently received confirmation of a contract with a major corporation who have agreed to purchase his recycled plastic. It seems that they have identified the enormous PR benefits that manufacturing products from plastic that was reclaimed from the sea by disadvantaged people would have and are willing to pay a premium for it.  

As well as allowing the gatherers to turn the plastic they have collected into every-day necessities the centres will also have a strong focus on education and training so that the waste collectors can scale up their efforts and perhaps even start their own recycling facilities.   

“A major focus will be on educating and empowering local people to reveal the value in themselves and to see the value in transforming repurposable plastics into necessities and entrepreneurial opportunities. Additional efforts will go towards community collection projects that raise the overall standard of living in host communities.”- Plastic Bank

The first of the plastic banks is set for opening later this year and if all goes well it won’t be long before David and his team are setting up shop in Colombia, The Philippines and Indonesia.

Needless to say we think this is a downright smashing idea and look forward to featuring Plastic Bank again as they spread across the world!

If you liked reading about this socially innovative organisation then we reckon you will love some of these…

GrowUp! Eco-friendly urban farming

Manchester Veg People - A new practise in fresh produce

Creative Mornings - A local idea goes global

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Published on: 24th February 2014

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