Best of Earth911 Podcast: Plastic Banks’ David Katz on Incentivizing and Upgrading Plastic Recycling
Join us for an impassioned conversation about the potential for recycling progress with David Katz, founder of Plastic Bank. He joined us earlier this year and returns to share an update about the company’s progress. Plastic Bank is a social enterprise that partners with consumer products companies to create incentive programs in Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Africa that help prevent plastics from reaching waterways, seas, and the ocean. The company has partnerships with SC Johnson, Henkel, and others. It pays individuals in emerging economies to collect plastic and turn it in at more than 600 branch locations. The collected plastic is recycled to make Social Plastic® feedstock, a raw material for making new plastic products.
David also discusses the recent Greenpeace report that argues plastic recycling, including new molecular recycling technologies, does not work — it’s an overstatement in our opinion, but the system definitely needs an upgrade.
David’s assessment of Greenpeace’s conclusion: “Shame on them. It’s one thing to say it doesn’t work. It’s another to say, ‘Let’s make it better.’” So what can we do? He advocates reducing the use of plastic overall, standardizing any necessary single-use plastic on recyclable materials, and that brands and society find a way to compensate people to collect and recycle the plastic we do use. Making the recycling system work may require incentives — but only 10 states have bottle bills that provide small payments for returning plastic bottles. We talk about what can be learned from Plastic Bank’s work in emerging economies. Besides reducing our consumption of single-use plastic packaging, new legislation or private support is needed to turn the corner.
This podcast originally aired on November 11, 2022.