Here’s what we know about ocean plastic…
Ocean Plastic is found in nearly every corner of our seas; from the most remote beaches to the arctic ice. Researchers estimate that between 4.7 and 12.7 million metric tonnes of plastic enter our oceans annually. If we take the mid-point that’s about 17,637,000,000 pounds of plastic every year, or enough to fill 5 grocery bags for every single foot of coastline in the world.
We’ve had laws in place for 30 years to prevent ships from dumping plastic into the ocean, so why does this problem seem to be getting worse every year?
As it turns out, about 80 percent of ocean plastic got there from the land. Plastic leaks from garbage dumps, is blown out with the wind, flows down storm drains and is carried by ocean-bound rivers and waterways. This problem is exacerbated in developing countries where plastic is pushed into the waterways rather than collected to be brought to landfills.
One question I’m often asked is “why don’t those countries do more to prevent the flow of plastic into the ocean?”
To understand the challenge in developing countries, you need to put yourself in the shoes of someone who lives in a vulnerable community.
Imagine being born into a neighbourhood where everyone you know earns less than one dollar a day. You would love to find a job, but you don’t know anyone who could hire you. In fact, no one you know even has a job themselves. So you spend all day, every day, doing whatever you can to earn enough money to eat that evening.
There are no government programs in place to come pick up your trash and no infrastructure for collection or recycling. The only options you’re aware of, is to push the garbage into the nearest river or canal, where at least it will be carried away.
Pressuring developing countries to spend money on waste infrastructure isn’t easy either. When the government is struggling to provide food and clean drinking water, it’s easy to push waste to the side.
If we take this practice and multiply it thousands of times, in communities all throughout the world, it’s easy to see how so much plastic ends up in the ocean.
So how do we motivate millions of people to take care of the environment while they struggle to take care of their families? Well… you let them provide for their families by taking care of the environment.
Ocean plastic is an environmental catastrophe, caused in part by social inequality, and it has a business solution. 4 trillion pounds of plastic already exist on the planet and each piece represents a valuable petroleum based resource.
By revealing the value in the plastic scattered all over the earth, we create an opportunity for millions of people to transcend poverty by collecting it.
Between $80 and $120 billion dollars is lost to the economy each year when we dispose of plastic packaging. Social Plastic® is sold to impact-driven brands to transfer that value into the hands of the people who collect it. By making plastic waste a currency, it becomes too valuable to end up in ocean-bound rivers and waterways.