David Katz is the founder and CEO of Plastic Bank, an organisation that “turns plastic waste into a currency” that “transcends poverty while stopping the flow of plastic into our oceans.”
With principle operations in Haiti, the Philippines and Indonesia, Plastic Bank operates hundreds of collection points in which ordinary people can ‘sell’ collected plastic waste. The money, stored digitally, can then be used to pay for school tuition, medical supplies, Wi-Fi, mobile minutes, energy for their house, or as an asset to borrow against.
Plastic Bank collects the waste, weighs it, and checks it for quality. It sells the waste to large multinational companies, such as SC Johnson, Henkel and Marks and Spencer, that use this recycled, ‘social plastic’ in new products. The money from the sales — and from large companies’ commitment to addressing their ‘plastic footprint’ — is then shared among the plastic collectors.
To date, Plastic Bank has recovered just under 10 million kilograms of plastic — equivalent to 450 million bottles.
In a popular TED talk, with almost 2 million views, Katz says that cleaning the ocean is “the very last thing we should be doing.” He uses the analogy of tackling an overflowing sink — saying that it would make no sense to mop up the floor without first turning off the tap.
“Even if…any well-meaning ocean plastic company were 100% successful, it would still be too little, too late,” he says.
“We’re trending to produce over 300 million tonnes of plastic this year, of which 8 million will flow into the ocean, to join the estimated 150 million tonnes already there.”
He adds that 80% of ocean plastic is coming from those countries that have extreme poverty. “If you live in the grips of poverty, concerned always about food, or shelter, or a sense of security, recycling is beyond your realm of imagination.
“And that is exactly why I created the Plastic Bank.”
For his work, Katz was designated one of Salt Magazine’s Top 100 Compassionate Business Leaders, wedged in between Dr. Muhammad Yunus (??) and Elon Musk,
“We all agree: Someone needs to do something about ocean plastic. This is the something, you are the someone.”
Before founding Plastic Bank in 2013, the serial entrepreneur was founder of the consulting platform Core Values Institute; a GPS tracking business; and an alarms business.Tags: Climate crisis, plastic pollution, USA