plastic pollution in oceans

The ocean is our planet's greatest carbon sink, absorbing 25% of carbon emissions.

Tackling ocean-bound plastic while empowering local communities

Every minute, the equivalent of one garbage truck of plastic enters the ocean. It is a serious issue requiring urgent action. The Plastic Bank project aims to catch plastic waste before it reaches the ocean by supporting local communities to collect plastic in exchange for additional income and life-changing benefits. As a result, the project has a positive impact on society as well as the environment. 

How does it work exactly? Plastic collection points are established in coastal areas particularly affected by plastic pollution and poverty. At the same time, the project empowers local people, often living in poverty, to become members and collect plastic before it can enter the ocean. At the collection branches, members can exchange the collected plastic for money or benefits such as health, work, or life insurance, grocery vouchers, or school supplies. The collected plastic is cleaned, sorted, and recycled into Social Plastic® – feedstock that is reprocessed and reintegrated into products and packaging, creating a circular economy. 

Currently, the project is active in six countries: Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, and the Philippines, with license-based expansion in Cameroon and Thailand.

The Plastic Bank project represents an additional commitment to climate action and does not produce verified emission reductions. This is why we combine your financial contribution to this project with a certified climate project.

collection plastic in indonesia

Why is it important to protect oceans?

Oceans have a significant influence on the climate, absorbing 25% of all carbon emissions and capturing 90% of the excess heat generated by these emissions. Oceans also produce around 50% of Earth‘s oxygen and help regulate global temperatures by transporting heat from the equator to the poles.

However, due to human activity, our oceans face severe threats. Climate change is causing harm to coral reefs, overfishing is depleting fish stocks, and agricultural nutrient pollution is contributing to the formation of dead zones. In addition, more than 12 million tonnes of plastic finds its way into the ocean annually, often transported there by rivers. Once in the ocean, plastic endangers marine ecosystems. It is estimated that one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed every year due to ingesting or becoming entangled in ocean plastic.

Plastic pollution is of particular concern in developing countries where waste disposal infrastructure is lacking or inadequate. This is where this project comes in.

Contribution to the United Nations‘ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

sdg 1 no poverty

SDG 1: No poverty

Members receive fair and stable income in exchange for the plastic they collect. The project provides additional incentives and life-improving benefits, such as health insurance, work insurance, and food vouchers.

SDG 8 decent work and economic growth

SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

The project creates full-time and part-time work opportunities for people in some of the world’s poorest countries, while enforcing strict policies to uphold labour laws and human rights. The project works with local partners to transport, process, and ship Social Plastic® feedstock to inject maximum value into the local economy. Social Plastic® is recycled ocean-bound plastic feedstock that is reprocessed and reintegrated into products and packaging, creating a circular economy.

SDG 12 responsible consumption and production

SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production

Social Plastic® feedstock is incorporated into the supply chains of multinational companies, reducing reliance on virgin plastics. Consumers can identify the Social Plastic® or project logo on partner’s products to help guide responsible purchasing decisions.

SDG 14: life below water

SDG 14: Life below water

The project seeks to stop plastic before it reaches the ocean, establishing collection branches within 50 km of the coast or ocean-bound waterways. Ocean plastic creates a multitude of issues for animals, humans and the environment. Plastic in the ocean is estimated to be directly responsible for over 1,000,000 seabird deaths and 100,000 marine mammal deaths per year, usually due to accidental ingestion or entanglement. Not included in these estimates are biodiversity losses from the destruction of habitats and breeding grounds. Microplastics are also hotbeds for toxins in the ocean and quickly enter the aquatic food chain.

Partnerships for the goals

SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals

The project developer was a winner at the UN’s SDG Action Awards in 2019 for linking stakeholders to action in impactful and innovative ways. This work rebuilds trust between citizens and institutions at all levels and informs the policy changes needed to make the SDGs a reality.

More information about the Plastic Bank project

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Our impact report provides you with even more information on our project for plastic free oceans. Learn about the positive effects of the project and get to know the people who benefit from it.

Download our impact report

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