Work of the Future

Plastics For Change

A mobile platform that helps brands ethically source recycled plastic, ensuring fair wages for urban waste pickers

Team Lead

Andrew Almack

Hear the Pitch


The Problem

In most lower-income countries, the informal sector is responsible for 80 to 90 percent of recycling activities. At the base of this supply chain are waste pickers, who collect and sell discarded plastics. These waste pickers have limited access to fair market prices, making it hard to earn a living. Furthermore, supply chain inefficiency makes it difficult for brands to consistently source high-quality recycled plastic.

The Solution

Plastics For Change (PFC) has developed a mobile platform that enables brands to ethically source discarded plastic—while ensuring fair wages for the urban waste pickers who find and sell it. The platform creates transparency and accountability across the recycled plastics supply chain, which benefits waste pickers and brands alike.

Similar to fair trade agriculture, PFC allows waste pickers to gain access to fair and consistent income opportunities, and provides brands with higher quality recycled plastic. PFC also advises brands on replacing the use of virgin plastic with ethically sourced recycled plastic, thereby improving the social and environmental impact of their products.

Market Opportunity

  • The global plastics market is valued at $500 billion, led largely by major end-use industries such as packaging in emerging markets.
  • In India, brand owners and manufacturers must comply with the new extended producer responsibility (EPR) legislation requiring them to re-collect packaging waste generated due to their production.
  • Currently, 32 percent of all plastic packaging escapes collection systems.

Organization Highlights

  • Signing a launch partnership agreement with a billion-dollar cosmetics company
  • Raising a round of seed funding with three impact investors
  • Media: The Economic Times, Forbes, Bloomberg, Fast Company, and more
  • Awards: Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2018 (Andrew Almack); SEED Award Finalist

Existing Partnerships

Plastics For Change currently partners with large fast-moving consumer goods companies to implement their platform, as well as franchise partners in India who implement their system and process, including:

  • Hasiru Dala, Bangalore’s leading NGO for waste pickers, to implement program locally and build transparency in pricing of recyclable plastics and ethical sources of collection
  • Small-Scale Sustainable Infrastructure Development Fund, to enable access to loans and bridge the gap between financial institutions and small-scale infrastructure investments

Organization Goals

Plastics For Change seeks to:

  • Expand to 30 cities throughout India and Southeast Asia that lack waste management infrastructure
  • Provide fair market access to 50,000 users through the PFC platform
  • Engage 12 global brands in the next five years to ensure a consistent market for ethically-sourced recycled plastic from PFC supply chains

Partnership Goals

To reach the goals mentioned above, Plastics For Change seeks partnerships to:

  • Add features and benefits to the PFC platform to better serve the informal recycling economy, working with universities and tech companies
  • Scope out and onboard new franchisee partners
  • Educate brands and manufacturers on best processes for sourcing recycled plastic
  • Provide financial support to accelerate PFC’s growth to additional communities in India and eventually throughout Asia

Stats

Plastics For Change has onboarded over 200 informal waste workers and mobilized 20 tons of plastic in its pilots.

On average, the prices paid to informal waste workers is 10 to 15 percent higher than market price of the raw material.

Solver Team

Organization Type:
For-profit

Headquarters:
Bangalore, India

Stage:
Pilot

Working in:
India

Employees:
12

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