New Bank Creates Currency from Plastic Waste in the Ocean

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What if all the plastic trash currently polluting waterways could be used as currency? Photo: Shutterstock
What if all the plastic trash currently polluting waterways could be used as currency? Photo: Shutterstock

By some estimates, the world’s oceans contain 46,000 parts of plastic for every square mile.

In fact, Earth’s largest landfill floats in the middle of the Pacific. And every day across the planet, people contribute an additional 13,000 to 15,000 pieces of plastic to the ocean, leading to the demise of the hundreds of thousands of marine creatures and seabirds that ingest or become entangled in the plastic.

“There’s more plastic on the face of the earth today than we could ever use,” says David Katz, founder of The Plastic Bank, a new social enterprise committed to curtailing ocean-polluting plastic by encouraging people to treat it as currency.

How does it work? The organization sets up special repurposing centers in countries where there’s an abundance of both plastic waste and poverty. Locals then trade in recyclable plastic — harvested from land, waterways and oceans — in exchange for education, micro-credit loans, tools, household items and 3-D printing.

Next page: Transcending Poverty with Plastic

  • David Katz

    What a nice story!

    • TinaCornely

      Agreed David! I just sent you a message on your website contact page. I too teach the poor how to repurpose trash so they can survive. We should team up & share repurposing strategies! Congrats to you & your team for a brilliant concept!

  • TinaCornely

    At long last! Plastic Bank is a non profit after my own eco friendly heart! I am the founder of a volunteer based registered 501c3 called http://www.bridging-humanity.org. What I do is I travel the globe & teach the poor how to become self sufficient, primarily with what is available to them in abundance, TRASH. For instance I teach the poor how to repurpose disposable chopsticks or twigs into crochet needles & then how to weave useful things out of plarn. I just returned from Nepal where I helped a monastery become more self sustaining. One of the things I did is teach them how to make Kera’s, the belt the monks use to hold up their robes. On this trip I also showed poor women living in remote villages how to make cycle bead necklaces from trash so they can do their family planning. And I taught the poor how to use an empty plastic bottle (without the labels) to purify contaminated water. This is a scientific proven method called the SODIS (solar disinfection). If it is this easy to purify water, dysntery should NOT be the number one killer of children world wide! Let’s team up Plastic Bank!

  • Chloe A. Carl

    Great except for the health disaster that plastic can be, what with BPA and leeching…

  • aprilktutor

    Thank God someone is finally doing something about our plastics problem. I have long been concerned about the overload of plastic on our beaches, and in landfills and waterways. I hope one day we can dismantle the Pacific Garbage Patch and dredge the ocean so that we aren’t killing the ocean life, and ourselves! Thank you, Tina, and thank you, Plastic Bank. You give me hope.

  • Bioroot Energy

    Taking action to end the practice of landfilling and incineration of society’s wastes in our lifetime. Yea, building “the carbon bridge” is a tough job but somebody’s gotta do it. ;-)

    http://www.biorootenergy.com/2012/07/19/community-fuel-projects/
    http://www.fb.com/biorootenergy

    Please read the FB note: “Higher Mixed Alcohol Fuel: What on Earth is it?”

  • ivanka

    yes indeed we should be concerned, the beauty of marine life that we must guard of the many thousands of garbage floating in the sea.