Plastic Bank: a new way to recycle plastic

There are investment banks, blood banks, food banks and now, thanks to a Vancouver-based start-up company, there are plastic banks.

Plastic Bank, an initiative started by David Katz and Shaun Frankson last May, will provide a different way to recycle plastic. The initiative hopes to offer a consistent ladder of opportunity for people in developing countries by encouraging them to exchange plastic for credits that can be used to buy basic necessities, print 3-D products and provide other opportunities.

“Really what we do is make plastic waste a currency that people can exchange to get out of poverty,” said Frankson. 

“For the first time in history this could allow the world’s poor to have the same opportunity for manufacturing,” said Frankson. “Anyone who is trying to be entrepreneurial can now start their own micro-manufacturing business simply by going out and collecting plastic.”

Ideally, the plastic bottles and packaging traded to Plastic Bank locations will be sold to worldwide corporations that will use the plastic in their products. It is Plastic Bank’s hope that consumers will then make socially-conscious decisions, purchasing plastic products, or Social Plastic according to Plastic Bank, that have helped improve impoverished people’s lives.

The idea first came to Frankson and Katz last year, with the shared perception that ocean plastic would greatly impact the environment’s future.

The pair wondered how so much plastic could find its way into the world’s waterways. As it is now, plastic occupies an area the size of Texas in the North Pacific Ocean, with more than 10 per cent of the world’s yearly plastic production bobbing in its currents.

“What we came to learn was that, in developing countries, standard practice is to dump garbage and plastic into the streets and then push it into the rivers as a means of disposal,” said Frankson.

For the creators of Plastic Bank, in order to change this out-of-sight, out-of-mind way of thinking, plastic needs to hold value.

The first-ever Plastic Bank will be launched in Peru at the end of April 2014.


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