Introducing Plastic Credits
Plastic waste which is not managed properly has extremely negative effects on the environment and is the number one cause of ocean plastic pollution. Managing plastic waste requires financial investments because the majority of plastic waste has no or even negative value.
There are two main possibilities to address this dilemma:
- We all have to reduce the usage of plastic wherever possible. If plastic (or any other material) is used we should design it in a way that it can be recycled or composted. This requires an entire industry to change and change always takes time. In some cases, it is even prohibited to use any other material than new plastic. This is especially the case for food and medical applications as hygiene has the highest priority there. Creating lasting legislative change will take even more time. Time we do not have, with 11 million tons of plastic entering our oceans every year.
- Secondly, and at the same time, we need to make sure that less plastic ends up in unmanaged systems. Unmanaged systems are for example uncontrolled landfills, open dumping straight into the environment, backyard fires or open incineration. The likelihood of causing environmental damage is extremely high in these situations and it is the main contributor to ocean plastic pollution.
The solution: Plastic credits
While Cleanhub recognizes the importance of using less plastic (as outlined in point 1) this process takes a long time. In the meantime, the time to act is now. Looking at the second point above, we know that solving this problem costs money. This is where plastic credits come in. Plastic credits are a financial instrument that brands or individuals who want to do something against plastic pollution can use to finance the collection and proper management of plastic waste. They can decide to pay for the management of a fixed amount of plastic or to collect a small amount with every product they sell. (Similar to the notion of: We plant a tree for every product sold).
If a brand decides to buy plastic credits, they can approach Cleanhub. Cleanhub is on its way to building the most transparent and scalable plastic credit system. Buyers get access to a growing and audited network of plastic collection partners in coastal areas around the world. These collection partners can be contracted to recover plastic waste, with activities ranging from door-to-door waste collection to river barriers. In return all collection partners use the Cleanhub app to track and trace every ton of plastic from collection to final disposal as digital proof of work. This data is made public so that everyone can follow the collection progress.
This model fixes two problems: The money from the plastic credits fill the gap that is required to manage plastic waste that has no value. The traceability makes sure that plastic always ends up in the appropriate endpoint. The plastic credit is created only once the last player in the recovery chain verifies that they have received the material.
The key lesson from this article is : Plastic credits are a great tool to finance the collection of plastic waste in areas with weak or no waste management infrastructure. End-to-end transparency guarantees that the plastic waste is recovered.