Plastics seems like an unimportant piece of trash to most, but here are the top 8 innovators who are tackling plastic pollution and changing the way people view and use plastics in their everyday lives.
An estimated figure of 100,000 marine mammals die from plastic pollution each year, the result of the 8 million tons of plastic that ends up in the ocean every year. It is now clearer than ever that plastic pollution is a major threat to the ocean and all life that depends on it, including us humans. The movement for marine conservation and ending plastic pollution is getting bigger each year, so let’s take a look at 8 social enterprises and non-governmental organisations that are leading the way to end plastic pollution.
(Photo by: Plastic Bank)
Plastic Bank is turning plastic waste into something valuable: currency.
Headquartered in Canada and operating in Haiti, Philippines, Indonesia and Brazil, the Plastic Bank helps impoverished communities earn extra money, and obtain necessities and services in exchange for plastic collected. Labelled Social Plastic®, and collectors are paid above the market rate to make a reasonable living for themselves. With this project, people are more inclined to collect and recycle the valuable plastic, instead of throwing it away to eventually end up in the ocean.
To date, the Plastic Bank has collected and recycled more than 9 million kg of ocean-bound plastic and has helped improve the quality of life for more than 4300 collectors worldwide.
In October 2019, SC Johnson announced its collaboration with Plastic Bank to establish 509 collection points in 5 countries, adding to the 9 collection centres already established by SC Johnson in Indonesia. Through this collaboration, Plastic Bank aims to collect 30,000 tons of plastic over the course of 3 years and provide income for collectors in the 5 countries. SC Johnson will start using 100% Social Plastic® to produce its Windex® bottles in Canada and the United States.
This collaboration between SC Johnson is amazing as not only is a multinational company embracing the model for sustainability but is also supporting the people living in improvised areas. This is a great role model for other companies to follow suit, and hopefully they will.
You can learn more about the amazing work of Plastic Bank here: https://plasticbank.com/
REMAKEHUB believes that waste can be remade into useful, sustainable materials and products, and they are dedicated to coming up with creative and innovative solutions for recycling waste in China. Founder Sissi Chao comes from a family of fast fashion clothing manufacturers, and after a 1 month internship in the family business, Sissi decided to quit. She saw the amount of waste generated by the fast fashion industry, and took the step to move her focus towards sustainability in fashion.
REMAKEHUB actively innovates to find ways to change the way trash is used and perceived. Last year, REMAKEHUB collaborated with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Arise Collective to turn around 500 kilograms of discarded fish nets into sustainable sunglasses, named ReefCycle. These glasses are named that as the nets are collected from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and by choosing to buy these glasses, people are able to support the protection of the Great Barrier Reef and save the lives of its wildlife.
REMAKEHUB is working on their sub-brand REFUTURE, where the sunglasses will have production journeys that are
fully traceable by consumers, from where the fishing nets were collected to the steps of the production process. This allows consumers to have a peace of mind that the products they buy are definitely from recycled fishing nets, allows them to share this part of their sustainability movement with their friends and family.
Other than sunglasses, REMAKEHUB also produces other fashion items from waste.
The work REMAKEHUB is doing has definitely made me rethink the way I purchase and discard fashion items, and you can learn more about REMAKEHUB’s initiatives here: http://www.remakehub.co/
Evo & Co.
Evo & Co., an Indonesian start-up, aims to reduce the use of single-use plastic, by offering companies and consumers alternatives that are sustainable to use. Evo & Co. boasts 2 brands under their wing: Evoware and Evoworld.
Evoware’s Seaweed packaging
(Photo by: Evo & Co.)
They have creatively turned to one of Indonesia’s farmed exports as an plastic alternative: seaweed. Using techniques invented by Dr. Noryawati Mulyono, S.Si., Evoware uses locally farmed seaweed to create packaging that can replace plastic.
(Photo by: Evo & Co.)
By utilising seaweed, Evoware is putting the planet first in many ways. Firstly, their seaweed packaging is edible, biodegradable and compostable. This way, the packaging can be used up completely, and none will end up polluting the environment even if they are thrown away. Secondly, the planted seaweed is able to absorb carbon dioxide in the water and slow the effects of ocean acidification. Seaweed also releases oxygen into the water to support life, and help to store the carbon dioxide that we humans produce. Other than the benefits for the planet, Evoware is also supporting the local seaweed farmers by buying seaweed from them at fair prices.
One of the first seaweed products made by Evoware is their Ello Jello edible cups, in a bid to reduce and replace the use of single-use plastic cups. Since then, Evoware has created more types of packaging that are edible and biodegradable, such as seaweed sachets for coffee and seasoning that will dissolve in water.
Learn more about Evo and Co. here: https://rethink-plastic.com/#
Seastainable, a social enterprise here in Singapore promotes the use of sustainable items. With a passion for marine conservation, Seastainable puts 50% of its profits into supporting marine conservation initiatives in Singapore, and other countries in South East Asia. In total, Seastainable has committed SGD30,00 to 33 conservation initiatives in 5 countries, and funded 12 projects through their Seastainable Grant.
Founder Samantha Thian saw the amount of single use plastic in the ocean while researching whale sharks in the Philippines. Upon her return to Singapore, she realised that the amount of plastic Singaporeans use is astonishing as well.
As such, Seastainable was started and offers their own selection of reusable and zero-waste straws, cups, bowls and more to reduce the use of single-use plastic and its resulting pollution.
Founder Sam is very committed and passionate about her love for marine conservation, and it shows through the other work she does, such as by giving talks at different schools and companies. She supported the enterprise with her full-time job, and believes that being able to give back and support other conservations
projects is a success in itself.
Products sold by Seastainable
Photo by: (Seastainable Co.)
You can learn more about the projects supported by Seastainable, check out their line of sustainable products, and feel their passion here: https://www.seastainable.co/
The Ocean Cleanup
Plastic retention in front of the extended cork line, from System 001/B
(Photo by: The Ocean Cleanup)
Based in the Netherlands, The Ocean Cleanup wants to get rid of the plastic plaguing the oceans using state of the art technology. The Ocean Cleanup was founded by Boyan Slat in 2013, when he was just 18 years old. With a team of talented, passionate and experienced people, the Ocean Cleanup is not afraid to come up with bold ideas to remove plastics from our seas.
When their first cleanup system, System 001 was deployed in 2018, it captured the world’s attention. When the system broke, news outlets all over the world were quick to report it. Although the setbacks were huge, The Ocean Cleanup team continued to work to analyse and fix the problem of plastic retention and the crack in the original system.
Last year, they deployed their new system 001/B to capture floating plastic trash from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch successfully, and have started work on the next system to be even tougher and long lasting. The Ocean Cleanup have predicted that their systems can clear 50% of trash from the patch every 5 years.
Interceptor™ 002 in Klang river, Selangor, Malaysia
(Photo by: The Ocean Cleanup)
Other than ocean plastic, Ocean Cleanup is also targeting the plastic from rivers, and intercepting them from entering the ocean with their fully solar-powered Interceptor™. They aim to fit their Interceptor™ into the most polluted rivers in the coming years, and achieve a decrease of 90% of marine plastic waste by 2040.
You can learn more about the innovative work that the team at The Ocean Cleanup is doing, and read more on their research work here: https://theoceancleanup.com/
(Photo by: OceanZen)
From Australia, OceanZen was started by founder Steph Gabriel while she was pursuing a degree in Environmental Science. Her passion for ocean conservation started during the time she lived on a Caribbean Island and had a job feeding wild stingrays. During her time there, she learnt about the negative impacts that human activities have on the ocean, and she decided to go back to Australia to pursue her degree to learn more about saving the ocean.
OceanZen offers women good quality, trendy swim wear made from material recycled from tossed fishing nets and plastic waste. Their products are responsibly made by their producers in Bali, and they ensure that no plastic is used by their business.
Every year, OceanZen organises eco-friendly Whale Swim Retreats to gather together like-minded people to experience the wonder of swimming with wild humpback whales. Through these retreats, OceanZen empowers women to love sustainability and love the ocean by sharing their knowledge on sustainability and plastic pollution.
With a deep love and appreciation for the ocean and marine conservation, OceanZen looks to expand beyond swimwear in the future, and hopes that their brand will inspire people and brands to choose sustainable options and join them to save the ocean.
Learn more about OceanZen and join the community to connect with like-minded women here: https://oceanzenbikini.com/
Ocean Sole Africa
This social enterprise in Kenya embraces the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.
Ocean Sole founder Julie Church saw that children would make toys from discarded flip-flops, and she motivated the children’s mothers to remake the flip-flop into products to sell for extra money. This served as inspiration for Ocean Sole, where discarded flip-flops that wash up on Kenyan shores are collected and turned beautiful pieces of art and functional products. Through this programme, Ocean Sole Africa has managed to provide employment for about 100 low income locals and have made a positive impact on more than 1000 locals.
Ocean Sole channels 10 to 15% of revenue into conservation and educational efforts, as well as beach clean-ups. Ocean sole has also partnered with different organisations to support their conservation projects. Recently, they have partnered with Save the Manatee Club on Manatee Appreciation Day 2020 to donate 20% of sales from each manatee art piece sold.
Art piece made from flip flops
(Photo by: Ocean Sole Africa)
You can learn about the process of making products from flip-flops and browse the beautiful products Ocean Sole has to offer here: https://oceansoleonline.com/
Parley For The Oceans
Originally a design agency in the United States of America, Parley was transformed into an environmental organisation after founder Cyrill Gutsch learnt about the plight of the ocean – its resources are threatened and could be depleted by 2048.
The Parley AIR strategy was launched as a solution to combat the problem of marine plastic pollution, representing Avoid plastic, Intercept waste and Redesign plastic. Parley is dedicated to discovering plastic alternatives through research and development programmes with a wide network of experts.
As part of the Future Island Nation program, The Republic of the Maldives is partnering with Parley to implement the Parley AIR Strategy across its islands, as well as find solutions to harness clean energy and tackle illegal fishing. Parley Maldives was established to decrease the use of single-use plastics and a team works on the ground to organise beach clean-ups and plastic collections with local communities and schools. The collected plastic is called Ocean Plastic®, and one of the brands using these plastics for their products is Adidas through the Adidas X Parley collaboration.
Parley for the Oceans have many other initiatives and collaborations going on to help people learn more about plastic pollution and finding creative solutions for non-toxic plastic alternatives, and you can learn more about them here: https://www.parley.tv/#fortheoceans
There are many great social enterprises out there striving to change the world with
great passion and devotion. Their innovative solutions have definitely helped people rethink the value and use of plastics. Ocean Purpose Project, as a Social Enterprise, also strives to bring about solutions to tackle plastic pollution and behaviour change for a better tomorrow. You can definitely do your part to help save the ocean, the life blood of our planet, by changing a part of your lifestyle, supporting your local social enterprises and organisations tackling plastic pollution, or even starting a project of your own! As the saying goes, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”, you can start your journey towards a sustainable and plastic free future today.