- TerraCycle is partnering with existing beach cleanup programs to collect 500 to 1,000 tons of plastic littler from around the world over the next year, as reported by Plastics News.
- Following a project with Suez that collected approximately 15 tons in Europe — leading to the creation of shampoo bottles from Procter & Gamble using the material — TerraCycle is now expanding its efforts to North America and Asia.
- Funding collection can be tough in some countries so a partner from DSM Environmental Services Inc. recently proposed a 1-cent fee for each pound of resin created to help subsidize these efforts.
The world's marine plastic pollution problem has been well-documented by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the Ocean Conservancy and many others. Ambitious ideas such as The Ocean Cleanup are currently being developed to tackle the issue, but it is far larger than any one organization can manage. Helping to coordinate existing beach cleanup efforts is a positive step, though helping to create global market demand for the recovered plastic material may be even more beneficial.
While more companies are showing interest in converting the material to energy or other resources, its viability in post-consumer packaging still hasn't been widely proven. Multiple brands have received attention for making new products from marine plastic, but the costs involved with collecting and cleaning it still means virgin material is cheaper. A coordinated global campaign that can demonstrate the path from cleaning beaches to putting new products on store shelves might help drive consumer interest in paying a little more for packaging made from this content.
The implementation of a small fee to aid in the collection may not be popular among all involved, though some form of multinational solution could be useful. As seen on beaches from Hong Kong to Alaska to the Great Lakes marine plastic knows no boundaries and has become a universal problem.