Solution overview

Our Solution:

Plastic Bank

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Tagline

Plastic Bank is an economic development firm that turns plastic waste into currency.

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Pitch us on your solution

Plastic Bank reveals value in plastic to end global poverty.  

Plastic Bank offers an internationally recognized, root-cause solution to ocean plastic: by effectively monetizing plastic waste and revealing the lost economic value of plastic pollution, plastic becomes too valuable to discard. Especially in developing nations, where the lack of disposal infrastructure and greater dependency on single-use packaging results in a disproportionate amount of pollution, Plastic Bank’s Social Plastic® Ecosystems provide much needed income opportunities to the extremely impoverished. Collected plastic is recycled and processed into new raw material feedstock, called Social Plastic, which can be purchased by manufacturers to produce more environmentally and socially ethical products. 

Plastic Bank has developed a blockchain-based transaction platform, developed with IBM, allowing for scalability. The app functions as a digital wallet for Collectors, many of whom have never had a bank account before.

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What is the problem you are solving?

Every minute, the equivalent of one garbage truck of plastic waste enters our oceans—a total of 8 million metric tons a year.

The 2010 Haiti earthquake devastated the Caribbean nation killing hundreds of thousands of people and displacing 1.5 million. Plagued by political instability, Haiti is unable to reach the needs of its people.[1] Over half of Haitians over the age of 15 are illiterate, and the price of an education “can be prohibitively expensive for low income families.”[2] Haiti also has a crippled waste management system – the landfills are unable to meet the needs of the population, so plastic waste is desperately disposed into ocean-bound waterways, endangering valuable ecosystems. 

In light of the social and environmental crisis, Plastic Bank opened its first ever branch in Haiti in 2014. Today, Plastic Bank has over 30 locations, 2000 Plastic Bank community members, and has collected a total of 3 million kgs of plastic, 1,205,396 kg in 2019 alone.



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Who are you serving?

The Plastic Bank does not employ a one-size-fits-all model, rather we are able to adapt and provide services that fit the needs of the communities we work in.

Due to the nature of the Plastic Bank collection model, the Plastic Bank engages with our collectors everyday, allowing us to have valuable conversation and observe the community's needs.  

For example, Plastic Bank staff learned that collectors could not read or write because they were unable to sign their cheques or use the mobile app. In response, Plastic Bank started a literacy program for the collectors. In this way, Plastic Bank collection stations are more like community centers than a simple recycling depot.

The combination of Plastic Bank's environmental and social initiatives, Plastic Bank is supporting and growing an educated population who cares about their society and for their environment. 


 

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What is your solution?

The Plastic Bank provides a consistent, above-market rate for plastic waste, thus incentivizing its collection. Individuals who gather our plastic can trade it for money, items or services.

Backed by IBM technology, Plastic Bank uses blockchain technology to provide secure asset-backed rewards to underpin the exchange of plastic waste for goods. Blockchain is used to track the entire cycle of recycled plastic from collection, credit and compensation through delivery to companies for re-use. Using blockchain technology has helped Plastic Bank establish trust, with both our collector community and corporate partners.

Through its app-based payment system, many collectors now have bank accounts for the first time, and are able to ultimately escape poverty. Collectors also now have the opportunity to exchange the plastic collected for school tuition for their children and health insurance. 

All of our branches in Haiti are also equipped with solar powered lights. Sometimes we offer the only light and reliable electricity in the area so students come to read, children to play, and parents supervise in the evenings. Expanding basic infrastructure like this creates hope and opportunities in the most disadvantaged areas.

In this way, the value of Social Plastic® goes beyond the commodity price of plastic: a ladder of opportunity is created for the world’s vulnerable communities by providing access to income, goods and services, and plastic is kept out of the ocean.



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Select only the most relevant.

  • Reduce single-use plastics and waste through promoting consumer behavior change and incentivizing re-use and recycling
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Where our solution team is headquartered or located:

Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Our solution's stage of development:

Scale

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More about your solution

Describe what makes your solution innovative.

Waste plastic is an abundant petroleum resource and recycled plastic feedstock is in scarce supply globally. Social Plastic® feedstock from The Plastic Bank, used by corporations in new products, is a conduit for consumers to prevent ocean plastic and create social change, as conscious consumers use their purchasing power to reward brands using Social Plastic®.


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Why do you expect your solution to address the problem?

Each year, over 8 million tonnes of plastic waste are “leaked” into the ocean—the equivalent of five grocery bags full of waste for each foot of coastline on the planet. Plastic Bank's model can be applied in every country of the world, first-world and developing countries alike. Fast Moving Consumer Goods companies have been partnering with us for the last several years in efforts to support their global plastic pact commitments to increase their recycled content commitments, as well as their social responsibility commitments. 

Plastic Bank is aiming to to be an exponential platform for many other types of organizations to leverage our social franchise model, app platform, and IP to build out these recycling ecosystems globally. Plastic Bank is receiving an average of over 20 requests per day to bring our model to countries all over the world, in collaboration with Multinational Corporations, local governments, NGO's, Innovation Labs, Microfinance Institutions, and others. Plastic Bank is helping design emergent marketplaces for this sector with our partners. 


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Select the key characteristics of the population your solution serves

  • Women & Girls
  • Urban Residents
  • Very Poor
  • Business owners
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In which countries do you currently operate?

  • Brazil
  • Haiti
  • Indonesia
  • Philippines
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In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • Brasil
  • Colombia
  • Egypt
  • Haiti
  • Indonesia
  • Philippines
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How many people are you currently serving with your solution? How many will you be serving in one year? How about in five years?

In each operating region, Plastic Bank employs a Country Manager to oversee operations on the ground and continuously improve the Social Plastic Ecosystem. Country Managers are local to the region they manage and are expected to adapt the Social Plastic model to suit the needs of their people and fit within cultural norms.

Collectors are the primary beneficiaries of Social Plastic Ecosystems. In many cases, no other work opportunities are available to those living in extreme poverty. Collectors are provided access to a living wage and can receive a special bonus payment on top of the local market rate for eligible materials. As of December 2019, Plastic Bank has over 250 collection centres and over 5,000 active collectors. 

Within the next year Plastic Bank is poised to grow the number of collectors in the Social Plastic Ecosystem exponentially and has a goal of 1000 collections centres and 100,00 collectors worldwide. 

Plastic Bank's impact goals for 2030 are to have 500,000 collection centres and 100 million collectors. 

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How do you measure your solution’s positive impact? If available, what measurable impact have you had in the last three years?

In 2018, Plastic Bank operated in 2 countries and had 2302 collectors engaged in the Social Plastic Ecosystem. Overall, 1,090,564 kgs of ocean-bound plastic was collected.

In 2019, Plastic Bank operated in 4 countries and had 5182 collectors engaged in the Social Plastic Ecosystem. Overall, 3.32 million kgs of ocean-bound plastic was collected. 

In addition to tracking the pounds of plastic that are collected and kept out of the ocean, The Plastic Bank records the number of grassroots waste collectors and collection centre entrepreneurs whose livelihoods are strengthened in Haiti and the Philippines, as well as the dollar amount of plastic offset and pounds of Social Plastic® purchased by corporations.

For our clients, The Plastic Bank provides an easy way to directly and significantly make progress on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We are part of the UN Global Compact and strongly support 14 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.





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What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?

Plastic Bank's goal is to gather one billion people together in the Social Plastic Ecosystem.

 2020 goals: 1,000 Collection Centres, 100,000 Collectors, and 5 million ambassadors connected to Social Plastic through the collection or purchase of material. 

2030 goals: 250,000 Collection Centres 500,000 other collection points (schools, churches, convenience stores, etc.), 100 million Collectors contributing material to Social Plastic Ecosystems, and 1 billion Social Plastic ambassadors, connected through the collection or purchase of material.

Plastic Bank is aiming to to be an exponential platform for many other types of organizations to leverage our social franchise model, app platform, and IP to build out these recycling ecosystems globally. 

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What are the barriers that currently exist for you to accomplish your goals for the next year and for the next five years?

The current challenges facing plastic bank are staffing, training, and program development.

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How are you planning to overcome these barriers?

STAFFING

Finding and keeping good labor in developing countries can be a constant challenge. Our ground-crew and Center operators are constantly looking for staff to meet growth demands. As the recycling category continues to attract competitors it is critical for PB to remain a respected employer and a responsible and authentic steward of the progress for our host nations. New departments are required for our global expansion, sales, marketing and finance teams.

TRAINING

Plastic Bank is constantly training all participants in the supply chain to provide best practices from which to build scalable competencies. Activities range from extraction to batching to sorting to baling and finally to processing/recycling. Improving our user training & onboarding for the Plastic Bank App creates more successful Collectors, Center managers and processors.

NEW PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT

Plastic Bank requires specialists to focus on new programs such as developed nation recycling programs, school and educational programs, faith based programs, and additional gig economy services within our various ecosystems.


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Please select one.

  • My solution is already being implemented in Latin America and the Caribbean
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If you selected “My solution is already being implemented in Latin America and the Caribbean,” please provide an overview of your current activities in the region

In Haiti, since 2014 we have established 30 Plastic Bank collection centres with 2,000 collectors who have retrieved 8 million pounds of plastic waste (4,000 tons), which is equivalent to 144 million plastic bottles kept out of the ocean and out of incinerators, and instead turned into Social Plastic® for reuse by corporations. 

Collectors in Haiti are able to earn $3.00 to $6.00 a day - a truly life changing income, since 2.5 million Haitians live on less than $1.23 per day. This additional income pays for food, shelter, and their children’s education.

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About your team

What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit

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How many people work on your solution team?

Plastic Bank currently employs 75 team members in 9 different countries with regional offices in Port-Au-Prince Haiti, Bali Indonesia, and Manilla Philippines. Plastic Bank’s global HQ is located in Vancouver BC Canada.

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For how many years have you been working on your solution?

7

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Why are you and your team best placed to deliver this solution?

David Katz, Co-Founder, CEO;

Named one of the world’s most compassionate entrepreneurs by Salt magazine. He is the recipient of the United Nations Lighthouse award for Planetary Health, recipient of the Paris Climate Conference Sustainia community award, recipient of the Earnst and Young Lifetime Achievement award, and named the Entrepreneur Organizations, Global Citizen. 

Shaun Frankson, Co-Founder, CTO; 

Digital strategist who designed and leads Plastic Bank’s Blockchain recycling, banking and movement platform. He created the marketing strategies to introduce Social Plastic® to the world, resulting in over 500 media features and a multi-million person revolution. 

Erin Rand, COO;

Erin’s passion is helping tech founders identify the keys to igniting accelerated growth, prioritizing the most critical focus areas that will speed their trajectory. She has broad experience scaling growing companies through inflection points as well as designing and implementing strategic initiatives at companies such as ServiceRocket, IBM, Brocade and NetApp.

Claus Skadjaer, President, Asia;

25 years of experience from the corporate world. He spent 7 year as the Managing Director for Luxottica South East Asia, Australia/New Zealand & South Pacific and before that he spent 18 years with Procter & Gamble in different leadership roles across Europe and Asia.

Saleem Ahmed, CMO;

Saleem cut his teeth in brand management at Procter & Gamble where he spent 13 years across Western Europe. During this time, he had responsibility for marketing and commercial operations on country, regional, and global levels for numerous billion-dollar brand franchises including Pantene, Head & Shoulders, Olay, Pringles, OralB, and Vicks.




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With what organizations are you currently partnering, if any? How are you working with them?

Cognition Foundry

Cognition Foundry is an award-winning blockchain development company with globally recognized expertise in Blockchain and HyperLedger Fabric coding. They provide full stack programming services for Plastic Bank in collaboration with Plastic Bank’s in-house UX and app development team. They are an official IBM business partner. They provide the hosting and security services for Plastic Bank’s platform.

IBM

IBM provides technology advisory and support to Plastic Bank, as an in-kind exchange for Plastic Bank’s brand narrative and spokesmanship. This has resulted in featured big stage speaking events at IBM’s annual THINK conference, TED @ IBM, and a fully produced television commercial that aired globally, including the US Open tennis tournament and the World Series of Baseball. IBM has also engaged their entire 300,000+ workforce base in Plastic Bank’s workplace ambassador program. The goal is to allow every IBMer to find meaningful ways to make a purposeful impact through the IBM Plastic Bank partnership.

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Your business model & funding

What is your business model?

Plastic Bank offers an internationally recognized, root-cause solution to ocean plastic: by effectively monetizing plastic waste and revealing the lost economic value of plastic pollution, plastic becomes too valuable to discard. Especially in developing nations, where the lack of disposal infrastructure and greater dependency on single-use packaging results in a disproportionate amount of pollution, Plastic Bank’s Social Plastic® Ecosystems provide much needed income opportunities to the extremely impoverished. Collected plastic is recycled and processed into new raw material feedstock, called Social Plastic® , which can be purchased by manufacturers to produce more environmentally and socially ethical products. 

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What is your path to financial sustainability?

Specifically Plastic Bank employs three revenue drivers:

  1. Sales of Social Plastic Feedstock to Plastic Manufacturers. As indicated previously, Social Plastic is recycled plastic material made from the ocean-bound waste collected in Plastic Bank’s Ecosystems. Plastic Bank sells Social Plastic feedstock to plastic manufacturers around the world in bale, flake, or pellet form, where it can be used to produce new products, completing the plastic life cycle.

  2.  Branded Ecosystem Activations for Multinational Organizations. Plastic Bank expansions into new countries or regions are funded by corporate partnerships with multinational organizations. In return, partners can have their logo(s) featured on Collection Centres, Collector materials, and Plastic Bank marketing materials; Can place their products in Collection Centres to be exchanged for plastic, which serves as an opportunity for product testing and emerging market penetration; and are privy to additional marketing and brand awareness methods, depending on the contract.

  3.  Plastic Neutrality Programs for Individuals, Events, and Small-to-Medium Businesses. Plastic Neutral programs can take multiple forms, each of which are structured around Social Plastic Collection Credits (SPCCs). Each SPCC, priced at $0.44, funds the collection of 1 kilogram of plastic within a Social Plastic Ecosystem. Using this simple 1 SPCC = 1 kg plastic conversion, individuals and organizations can calculate the amount of SPCCs required to neutralize their plastic consumption.

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Partnership potential

Why are you applying to the Rethink Plastics Challenge?

Afforded with the opportunity to be the recipient of the Rethink Plastics Challenge, Plastic Bank would use the financial grant and networking opportunities to refine the research and design of the up-cycle process. It is important for organizations to consider alternatives to the current process up-cycling process to determine methods of efficiency, standardization, effectiveness. By investing resources into research, Plastic Bank will be able to pursue innovative solutions and strategies to effectively close the plastic loop.  

We believe that the Rethink Plastics Challenge platform will help to amplify the Plastic Bank message assist our efforts in creating a regenerative plastics economy.


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What types of connections and partnerships would be most catalytic for your solution?

  • Distribution
  • Talent or board members
  • Media and speaking opportunities
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Solution Team

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