David Katz, founder of Plastic Bank, shares his vision for a regenerative society built on grassroots recycling programs that help low-income regions build resilient communities. The Vancover, B.C., startup compensates more than 30,000 plastic recyclers in the Philippines, Indonesia, Brazil, and Egypt. To date, Plastic Bank has stopped over 99 million pounds of plastic waste — the equivalent of more than 2 billion plastic bottles — from entering the world’s oceans, and the pace of its collections is accelerating. The people who collect plastic are paid for the material they deposit at more than 511 Plastic Bank branches. Katz’s team has partnered with more than 200 companies, including Procter & Gamble, HelloFresh, L’Oreal, and Coca-Cola, to create circular economies in plastic packaging.
Their next goal is to capture 10 billion bottles, which still represents only 1.7% of the 583 billion produced in 2021, according to Euromonitor. David explains that a shift in mindset from extractive ownership to regenerative stewardship can break the economic mold and bring prosperity in regions where so much valuable material currently is treated as waste. Plastic Bank uses a blockchain-based data collection and reporting system that helps collectors track their earnings and which provides transparency and traceability for the plastic captured. Plastic Bank works with plastic recyclers to convert the collected bottles into SocialPlastic, a raw material for making new products. They sell plastic #1, #2, and #4 to industry to recover their costs. You can learn more about Plastic Bank at plasticbank.com.