Lombard Odier, Plastic Bank tackle ocean plastic pollution
Private bank-funded initiative aims for both social and environmental impact
3 Aug 2020 | The Asset

Swiss private bank Lombard Odier and Plastic Bank, a Canadian social enterprise, are partnering up to pioneer a solution to help reduce the amount plastic waste polluting the world’s  oceans and create jobs and long-term value for collectors in the developing countries.

Instead gathering up the plastic waste from the ocean, Plastic Bank focuses on stopping it before it enters the ocean by collecting and reprocessing the materials for reuse. In exchange, local collectors gain access to basic family necessities and goods.

In its first partnership with Plastic Bank, Lombard Odier, which previous sponsored the planting of 20,000 trees in Peru and Tanzania with ReforestAction, will fund the collection of over 795 tonnes of ocean-bound plastic in Haiti (the equivalent of over 39 million plastic bottles).

The collection process by 6,000 local Haitians will improve their lives and that of their families and is the first part of a larger programme that aims to create a positive impact in Haiti and Egypt in the next few months.

“By supporting the collection of plastic waste in underserved communities, Lombard Odier is pioneering new avenues for environmental and social impact in the global banking industry,” says David Katz, founder and chief executive officer at Plastic Bank, a key player in the sustainability space and what it is termed the circular economy.

The circular economy concept aims for a consistent recycling economy that keeps plastic in the value chain for as long as possible, in addition to reducing its use and making that plastic which is absolutely necessary more reusable.

Plastic Bank builds, in costal communities, ethical recycling ecosystems that reprocess collection materials for reintroduction into the global manufacturing supply chain. The collected material is reborn into what it refers to as “social plastic”, which can be easily reintegrated into products and packaging as part of a closed-loop supply chain.

The firm’s blockchain platform secures the entire transaction and provides real-time data visualization – allowing for transparency, traceability, and rapid scalability. Plastic Bank also has projects running in developing countries like Brazil, Indonesia, and the Philippines.  

Plastic pollution is one of the greatest threats facing our oceans. The annual flow of plastic into the world’s oceans could nearly triple by 2040, according to research by The Pew Charitable Trusts and SYSTEMIQ.

The research found that if no action is taken to address the projected growth in plastic production and consumption, the amount of plastic entering the ocean each year would grow from 11 million metric tons to 29 million metric tonnes over the next 20 years, equivalent to nearly 50 kilograms of plastic on each metre of coastline worldwide.

And because plastic remains in the ocean for hundreds of years and may never truly biodegrade, the research estimates that the cumulative amount of plastic in the ocean by 2040 could reach 600 million tonnes — equivalent in weight to more than 3 million blue whales.

And, according to the International Solid Waste Association, the problem of ocean plastic pollution, like many other of the world’s problems, has been made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has caused an explosion in single-use surgical-type face masks around the world, most of which are not being recycled.

The world and the environment needs many more initiatives like that of Lombard Odier and Plastic Bank’s if it is to effectively tackle the problem of ocean plastic pollution.

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