New Bank Creates Currency from Plastic Waste in the Ocean

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What if all the plastic trash currently polluting waterways could be used as currency? Photo: Shutterstock

What if all the plastic trash currently polluting waterways could be used as currency? Photo: Shutterstock

By some estimates, the world’s oceans contain 46,000 parts of plastic for every square mile.

In fact, Earth’s largest landfill floats in the middle of the Pacific. And every day across the planet, people contribute an additional 13,000 to 15,000 pieces of plastic to the ocean, leading to the demise of the hundreds of thousands of marine creatures and seabirds that ingest or become entangled in the plastic.

“There’s more plastic on the face of the earth today than we could ever use,” says David Katz, founder of The Plastic Bank, a new social enterprise committed to curtailing ocean-polluting plastic by encouraging people to treat it as currency.

How does it work? The organization sets up special repurposing centers in countries where there’s an abundance of both plastic waste and poverty. Locals then trade in recyclable plastic — harvested from land, waterways and oceans — in exchange for education, micro-credit loans, tools, household items and 3-D printing.

Next page: Transcending Poverty with Plastic

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