On Saturday I participated in a TEDxTUM event 'Conscious Reflection' at the Technical University of Munich (TUM).  

In addition to some wonderful and thought-provoking talks, several recorded TEDx talks were shown by local event promoters.  One of these talks introduced a systemic solution for two urgent human problems: extreme poverty and ocean waste.

The talk was 'The Surprising Solution to Ocean Plastic' by David Katz, introduced by York Hovest, a Munich-based photo journalist.

Ocean waste is a rapidly expanding problem that has already reached critical urgency with no sign of relief, despite clear signs it’s threatening our oceans and - as a 100% self-created problem - should be avoidable.

Many people are exploring the problem of how to clean up our oceans.  However, as David Katz points out in his TED talk, unless we manage to stem the increasing tide of new waste trying to clean up the oceans won’t help much.

Most ocean waste enters the ocean from poorer countries where people have little interest, infrastructure, or spare energy for recycling. Plastic Bank offers a pragmatic solution to ocean waste by avoiding it in the first place, while offering a livelihood for people who clean up the waste.

Here’s how it works: Plastic Bank turns used plastic into new materials companies can use.  To get the plastic, they pay people to collect it for them.  To make payments secure and flexible, they created an online payment platform that enables people to turn value exchanged for their plastic into cash, products and even services.

This not only helps create a livelihood for people who don’t have another means of support, it also creates a powerful incentive for people to clean up plastic waste before it enters our oceans.

The result is not just more sustainable plastic production, but ‘social’ plastic, because it also does social good.   Companies like Henkel have signed up to purchase ‘social plastic’ instead of using raw materials, thus supporting a more sustainable and circular solution for human plastic consumption.

If you’d like watch this powerful talk and learn more about Plastic Bank, you can find it here.  

Laura Schroeder

Making money do more....