Household supplies multinational SC Johnson has announced a pioneering partnership with Plastic Bank, a plastic waste recycling startup, to tackle the threat of global ocean plastics by increasing the rate of recycling across less privileged areas of Indonesia.
Plastic Bank, which currently has a successful proof-of-concept program running in Haiti uses a custom cryptocurrency solution running on IBM’s Hyperledger Fabric protocol to interface between plastics buyers and individual plastic waste collectors, providing a reliable way to reward individual recyclers for collecting ocean-bound waste plastic.
Ocean Plastics and Indonesia
A 2015 report by Ocean Conservancy and the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment names China, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam as the five countries cumulatively responsible for over 55 percent of the plastic waste that finds its way into the ocean. According to the report, raising plastic collection and recycling rates across these five countries to 80 percent would cut the global ocean plastics leakage rate by 23 percent.
While many solutions have been attempted to this end, they have largely met with limited success because a substantial number of the areas directly responsible for ocean plastics leakage are impoverished areas with limited infrastructure and security problems which make recyclers susceptible to robbery or theft if they are rewarded with cash. Indonesia is of particular concern because the country is home to the world’s highest levels of marine biodiversity and its coral reefs, which are threatened by plastics leakage are central to the food chain that sustains millions of people in the area.
In order to effectively incentivise a sufficient number of Indonesia’s estimated 28 million people living in poverty, Plastic Bank uses a blockchain solution linked to a mobile app that reliably rewards individual plastic collectors for the amount of plastic they bring into collection centres using digital tokens instead of cash.
Speaking about the importance of Plastic Bank’s Indonesian partnership with SC Johnson, founder and CEO David Katz said:
“This partnership with SC Johnson is the first of its kind in Indonesia. It will help create more opportunities for people living in poverty and will offer waste collectors an important sense of pride. SC Johnson is the first CPG company to scale a program of this kind in Indonesia that will benefit a wide range of socio-economic demographics including local residents living below the poverty level.”
According to information released by SC Johnson, collection centres with a minimum capacity of 100 metric tonnes of plastic per year will be operational by May 2019, with the first centre in Bali to be opened officially on October 28. In addition to providing incentives for eliminating ocean plastics leakage, the program will also educate local communities in Indonesia and beyond about the environmental and social implications of plastic pollution and the opportunities presented by recycling.