Plastic Bank and Ocean Bound Social Plastic, Really?

Washington (ONGC) Analysis | January 29, 2022, by Noreen Wise, Founder & CEO of Our New Green Culture; Image Credit AdobeStock

The plastic crisis engulfing the globe and posing a major health threat to billions of innocent, impoverished people living in coastal communities in third world countries has created a spurious opportunity for the industrious courtesy of Plastic Bank. Founded in 2013 by Shaun Frankson and David Katz, Plastic Bank is a nonprofit with a mission to turn plastic “waste into worth”… and empower “vulnerable communities with a path out of poverty.”

According to a 2019 report (put together by Tearfund, Fauna & Flora International, WasteAide, and the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex in England), plastic pollution kills up to one million people a year worldwide. This alarming report highlights the shocking harm to both humans and marine life. Not only the staggering one million human deaths per year, but more than 180 different species of birds, fish, invertebrates and mammals (and mass numbers of each of these species) were found to be impaired by swallowing plastic. There was even a fish species discovered in the deepest ocean trench that had ingested plastic. Further, the report noted that the fishing and tourism industries in many vulnerable locales, which are the main livelihoods in these coastal developing communities, have been destroyed by ocean-based consumer plastic pollution. The economic loss totals $13 billion USD each year. 

Annually, according to Plastic Oceans:

  • 380 million tons of plastic are produced every year.
  • Some reports indicate that 50% of the 380 million tons is single-use plastic.
  • 10 million tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean.

“The world needs to be using much less plastic, and the plastic we do produce should be valued, reused and recycled as much as possible. It’s incumbent on the producers of plastic products and packaging that bear the most responsibility for plastic pollution to do the most to stop its negative impacts on the environment.”

Fauna & Flora International, Plastic pollution crisis — New report highlights health impact on world’s poorest

Plastic Bank’s vision to help solve the plastic crisis aligns in part with Fauna & Flora International’s poignant assertion that manufacturers of “plastic products and packaging that bear the most responsibility for plastic pollution must do the most to stop its negative impacts on the environment.” Plastic Bank seems to have applied the classic principles of: turn every negative into a positive…make lemonade from trillions of plastic lemons…and what doesn’t kill you can make you “bonuses” from Plastic Bank. 

The Plastic Bank mission is to “Eliminate ocean plastic by bringing a billion people together to monetize waste while enhancing lives.”

In spelling out its seemingly humanitarian mission so cleverly, and being praised for its benevolence, Plastic Bank has succeeded at gaslighting the public into buying into this warped view of the upside of the horrific quantities of plastic choking the life out of our oceans. The founders have won numerous awards for the positive impact their vision has had on the coastal communities where Plastic Bank operates. 

Despite the acclaim and good vibes for pretending to save our oceans by creating wealth for the poor, many leaders appear to be oblivious to the partnerships Plastic Bank has roped into their plastic ecosystem. Partners such as SC Johnson are now promoting “100% Ocean Bound Social Plastic” as a wonderful thing, a marketing advantage they can use to sell Windex with Vinegar in plastic bottles, instead of the consumer choosing to buy a competing green brand sold in an aluminum can or to make their own glass cleaner using vinegar and orange peels and storing it in a glass jar.  

The subliminal message being conveyed by SC Johnson is that if consumers don’t buy Windex with Vinegar in plastic bottles, we’ll be robbing the impoverished in coastal Haiti or Brazil of their livelihood, despite the fact that plastic bottles and packaging sold in the US has a 75% chance of becoming landfill waste (and will not become part of Plastic Bank’s plastic ecosystem). Only 25% of the plastic manufactured in the US actually gets recycled. Additionally, this type of giant sized spin, deflects the consumer’s attention away from connecting the dots that these communities wouldn’t need to collect plastic to earn money if their fishing and tourism industries hadn’t been wiped out by plastic pollution.

What is Social Plastic? Social Plastic is ethically recovered material from the Plastic Bank ecosystem that transfers its value to communities in need.

Plastic Bank

What Plastic Bank calls Social Plastic” is used to create:

  • PET (water bottles) keep out of sun toxins from leaking
  • LDPE
  • HDPE
  • Plastic yarn

Plastic Bank operates in: Brazil, Egypt, Haiti, Indonesia, and Phillippines where collectors who exchange plastic waste for bonuses can use them to secure basic needs: groceries, clean drinking water, school tuition, internet connection, health insurance, and cooking fuels.

Plastic Bank’s global partners: SC Johnson (Windex with Vinegar), Aldi (discount super market chains), SEINZ (consumer brands: body care, beauty brands,  hair care, hand care, healthy living, skin care, nails, vitamins), Geiner, Henkel (chemical & consumer brands), Carton Pack (Italy, an international market leader that produces packaging for vegetable and fruit industry), IBM, and Shell Energy. Yes, that is Shell oil company. Most plastic is partially made from big oil.

SC Johnson earns $11 billion in revenue and sells home cleaning, storage, air care, and personal care products in every country in the world. They were founded in 1886 and have manufactured trillions of single-use plastic containers since the creation of plastic. Although “1 Billion Bottles” saved from the ocean is exciting, it’s really only a drop in the bucket of what needs to be done to correct all the plastic pollution SC Johnson has drowned the world with.

Plastic Bank has no intention of reducing the use of plastic by encouraging partners and consumers to switch to aluminum, glass and / or reusables. Plastic Bank’s marketing doesn’t educate the public about the negative impacts of plastic pollution on human health and our environment, and instead aggressively attempts to convince the public that the most important goal should be monetizing plastic waste, so that those in third world countries can earn a living from the plastic waste, which makes plastic waste a good thing after all.

Plastic contains multiple toxins that are dangerous and very harmful to babies and children. Plastic also negatively impacts adult health:

  • Childhood development issues (lowers IQ in children)
  • Disrupts hormonal growth
  • Carcinogen
  • Asthma
  • Pulmonary cancer
  • Nerve and brain damage
  • Kidney diseases

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) is two times the size of Texas, and billions of tons of additional plastic waste in our waterways and oceans will not be eliminated by consumer brands using the plastic they make from manufacturing new plastic bottles from old ones gathered up by Plastic Bank collectors. The plastic crisis can only be solved by reducing the amount of products that are packaged in every kind of plastic, including recycled plastic.

How many SC Johnson plastic bottles and containers are in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

Plastic Bank’s ecosystem is NOT closed loop. There are many products that can be manufactured from Plastic Bank’s stash of collected plastic. Products that permanently remove plastic from our environment. Why doesn’t Plastic Bank partner with companies who manufacture the products below?

  • Bricks
  • Countertops
  • Carpeting
  • Film and Sheeting
  • Handbags
  • Traffic cones

Plastic bottles can only be recycled or reused to create new bottles 2 or 3 times. With each subsequent use, it becomes much weaker and is more likely to leach toxins when being used. Further, it’s impossible to actually know how many times a bottle has been recycled, so this isn’t a solution that can be managed effectively. 

Plastic that ends up in our waterways and oceans breaks down over time and becomes tiny little shreds of plastic called microplastics. Microplastics are poison and are now everywhere, including our food supply. Studies have found that we eat 100 bits of microplastic with every single meal. This amounts to one plastic credit card per week, and 52 credit cards per year. This tragedy negatively affects our own health. News broke this week, that there is a new, more dangerous plastic threat, nanoplastic, that’s even more toxic than microplastic.

“The study is uncharted scientific territory, as the spread of nanoplastics through the air remains largely unknown. The result of Brunner’s research is the most accurate record of air pollution from nanoplastics ever made. To count plastic particles, Brunner and his colleagues developed a chemical method that determines sample contamination with a mass spectrometer.” —Charles Dunkin, Nanoplastic Pollution, Blaze Trends

If Plastic Bank is able to rethink its current strategy and shift to partnering with companies who manufacture plastic products that are not single-use and will not become future waste, then it will deserve all the awards it’s receiving. But until then, their operation is nothing more than gaslighting American consumers into believing we can keep on buying more plastic packaged products without there being any harmful consequences, no matter how much proof there is to the contrary. 

© Copyright 2022. ALL Rights Reserved.

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