WWF-Canada Blog:

Plastic Shore: How a small non-profit organization plans to mobilize the corporate sector to reduce plastic pollution

By Andrew Almack, Founder of Plastic Shore

On world ocean day a group of volunteers representing a non-profit called PlasticShore demonstrated how it is possible to create reusable products from recycled plastic debris. The group showcased a prototype lumber board which was made using plastic debris collected off the West Coast of Vancouver Island and recycled at Syntal Products in Victoria.

The certified plastic debris prototype represents the first step in PlasticShore’s lofty plans to address the global plastic pollution crisis.
plastic shore

The Big Picture Plan

I started working on this project after experiencing the impact that plastic pollution has in developing countries, explains PlasticShore’s founder Andrew Almack. Each day up to 8 million pieces of plastic debris enters the marine environment where they may remain for up to 500 years (UNEP). It is estimated that this debris kills around 100 000 marine mammals annually in addition to millions of birds and fish (NOAA).

In response to this ever-growing problem, we are developing an innovative social enterprise that reduces plastic pollution in communities by promoting and rewarding corporate social responsibility. The core strategy of the organization is to provide a certification mark on commercial product lines which are made using plastic debris. Companies that adhere to our environmental standards can use plastic debris collected from community cleanup in their product lines. This approach transforms plastic debris into a valuable asset for companies and helps mobilize the corporate sector to reduce plastic pollution through community engagement and education.

The problem is growing worse because once debris enters the marine environment it is treated as an externality. No one single entity has the resources to address this problem so we need a solution that fits into our capitalistic system. This is why PlasticShore’s “eco-label certification” strategy is so important. We plan to create a demand for plastic debris in the same way that the fair trade symbol helps to support a market for ethically sourced produce.

None-the-less we understand that preventing pollution from accruing in the first place is of equal importance. Our campaigns will reinforce the message that 80% of plastic in the marine environment actually starts on land as litter.

Generating community impact   

Our mandate as an organization is to utilize plastic debris to generate the greatest impact within society. We want to add to the momentum behind established cleanup groups by transforming cleanup events into fundraising strategies to support community initiatives. As the project develops we’ll work to increase our impact by developing green employment programs for socially marginalized individuals and by implementing educational programs in the high school curriculum.

Ultimately, the greatest impact can be made in developing regions that lack government funded waste management infrastructure and education. These regions don’t have a strong network of NGO’s so it is crucial that PlasticShore develop a mechanism for engaging the corporate sector to reduce the problem.

Next steps

Over the summer PlasticShore wants to define this product concept in the marketplace and create a continual source of funding to reduce plastic pollution through education and community engagement.

To fundraise for the project, PlasticShore will be donating park benching made using plastic debris. To inquire about getting your name on a bench please email us at donations.plasticshore@gmail.com

If you want companies to sponsor the cleanup of plastic debris in your community, support our initiative on social media www.facebook.com/PlasticShoreProject @plasticshore

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Check out our website www.plasticshore.org for more information.