One of the biggest threats to the worlds oceans along with climate change is plastic pollution. Each year, over 8 million tons of plastic ends up in the ocean each year. Marine life is threatened in multiple ways including entanglement and plastic consumption and has even been found in the deepest trenches of the world.
The best way to fix the problem is to cut off the source and we are seeing some countries jump on board already and join in that fight. Unfortunately, as a majority the world is not there yet and current trends point to us taking quite a long time before we do reach a plastic free ocean. So what do until then? Well, one Vancouver-based company believes they have an idea that may make the difference.
The company called Plastic Bank is promoting plastic recycling in developing nations, whom exceed other nations in terms of plastic waste by a disproportionate amount, by using a blockchain-based system that lets locals trade collected plastic for health care, tuition, cooking oil and other goods and services.
Developing nations typically lack the a waste-management system to properly hand the high consumption of cheap single-use plastic items such water bottles. In many of the countries the plastic first finds it way to a river which will then lead right into the ocean. According to one recent study, 90 percent of plastic debris in the ocean comes from 10 rivers, eight in Asia and two in Africa.
This is where Plastic Bank steps in. The company first traveled to Haiti and set up more than 40 recycling centers where plastic is exchanged for cryptocurrency, which is mostly theft-proof. In partnership with IBM, transaction are recorded in encrypted digital ledgers with the digital tokens placed into an account via mobile phone app and then used to make purchases.
In a country like Haiti, plastic collectors can make around $5 per day which is well above the average citizens rate of $2 a day according to the World Bank.
Since it opened the first center in Haiti in 2015, Plastic Bank has taken in the equivalent of more than 100 million plastic bottles. The plastic is processed into flakes or pellets and then exported to other countries, where it’s used to make new products.
As many already know, Plastic Bank knows their innovative idea will not save the oceans from the ever-growing amount of plastic in the ocean as the only way to truly find a solution is to stop the problem before it even begins.