The Power of Scale

Royal Dutch Shell

David Katz, founder and CEO of the Plastic Bank, the world’s only organisation to monetise plastic waste.

Growing up on the picturesque coastline of British Columbia, I have always been passionate about the need to protect the ocean. As CEO of the Plastic Bank, I’m on a mission to make plastic more valuable, and reduce its presence in our precious oceans. So why have I partnered with Shell?

I am the first to admit that we might make unlikely bedfellows. But I believe in the power of scale, and with 43,000 sites in 80 countries, Shell can enable us to reach up to 30 million people a day. And as we reach the milestone of 50,000 Kg of plastic waste removed from Haiti’s oceans after just one campaign together, the power of this partnership starts to show.

The Plastic Bank created the concept of Social Plastic, a mechanism for transferring more wealth to the world’s poor by assuring they receive a consistent, above-market rate for plastic gathered safely from the world’s oceans.

The greater the demand for Social Plastic, the higher premium it will command and the more impact it will have. It’s a virtuous circle which accelerates as it grows: for example, we also enable entrepreneurs to set up local convenience stores which accept plastic waste as currency, as well as enabling individuals to trade it for money, items and services directly.

In this way, the value of Social Plastic goes beyond the commodity price of plastic: a ladder of opportunity is created for the world’s poor by providing access to income, goods and services and plastic is kept out of the ocean.

The more that can be done to reveal the true value (and cost) of plastic and to reduce its use, the more opportunity there will be to keep our oceans clear of plastic waste. That’s why I partnered with Shell to launch a reusable plastic water bottle in their retail sites in the UK and around the world as they share a common objective that by reducing waste we can create a better future.

The bottle itself is made from local recycled plastic, and each bottle sold supports the removal of 2kg of waste from the ocean surrounding Haiti – with this recovered waste turned into Social Plastic to be sold at a premium, providing funds to extend our work even further.

What next for Plastic Bank? We currently have operations in Haiti and the Philippines and plan to expand through similar work in Indonesia and Brazil. Excitingly, we will be able to extend our work even further through a new app launching in 2018 which will create a secure electronic plastic exchange with the power to reach across the world. Powered by Blockchain technology, it will include digital savings along with the ability for anyone on the planet to operate a convenience store for the poor in which plastic waste is the currency.

The long-term ambition is to prevent the eight million tonnes of plastic that ends up in our oceans every year by revealing its value.

To accomplish this, continued support and involvement from companies, organisations, and individuals is key – everyone can be part of the solution.

You can support Plastic Bank by sharing their story online (search: Plastic Bank), or by purchasing a water bottle at selected Shell Retail sites.

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