The Plastic Bank Lets You Deposit Your Recyclable Plastics For Cash — It Just Makes Cents!

three plastic bottles in shape of recycling logoThe Plastic Bank is an endeavor to create value in recycling in countries with high poverty levels and low recycling rates. The Plastic Bank’s success could help reduce the amount of plastic in our oceans. It could also serve as a humanitarian project that fights poverty at the same time. The first Plastic Bank will open in Lima, Peru.

How It Works

People are encouraged to bring in recyclable plastics (i.e. polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) among others) and are offered monetary compensation for their effort. The Plastic Bank sorts and sends out the plastic for recycling. The recycled material can then be used for 3-D printing as seen in this video:

The company coined the term SocialPlastic™ for the recycled material produced by the Plastic Bank endeavor. Consumers are encouraged to call companies that make their favorite products and ask them to use SocialPlastic™ when it becomes available.

The “Social Plastic” terminology is a way for consumers to identify with the plastic collected as a means to improve the planet through their purchasing power. The call to action on their website states:

Please help us lead the Social Good movement by ASKING your favourite brands to use recycled Social Plastic™ when ever plastic is needed to manufacture a product. Together we can reduce global poverty and plastic pollution.

Changing The World

By “revealing value in plastic,” the recyclable trash becomes a valuable commodity. The Plastic Bank puts money into the hands of the people who need it most while encouraging a cleaner environment. This creates safer and more hygienic surroundings, cleaning up the pollution in waterways and on the streets. David Katz, founder of The Plastic Bank, hopes to rid the world of plastic polluting the land, waterways, and oceans. Here’s what he says about the project:

The Plastic Bank project helps the poor while cleaning up the environment and creates a new and valuable product in the process. It’s a win-win-win any way you look at it.

Do You Know Your Recycling Numbers?

People collecting material for the Plastic Bank will not need to know the differences between plastics in order to redeem them. The main objective is collecting a significant volume from the environment. Plastics collected will be sorted by the bank for various uses.

The types of recyclable plastic vary and are easily recognizable thanks to the classification number in the triangle on the bottom of the container. Here’s a look at what the codes mean:

1 is for PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate). This plastic is most widely used as bottles for drinks, medicine bottles, and food containers among many others. PETE is frequently recycled and used to make tote bags, carpet, polar fleece, and fiberfill for winter outerwear.

2 is for HDPE (high-density polyethylene). HDPE is used to make milk jugs, motor oil bottles and hair care products. This plastic is usually recycled and used for recycling containers, floor tile, picnic tables, and fencing.

3 is for PVC (polyvinyl chloride). PVC is used for pipes usually for plumbing. It generally isn’t recycled but when it is it’s used as flooring, mudflaps, speed bumps, and more.

4 is for LDPE (low-density polyethylene). This type of plastic is used as cling wrap, grocery and sandwich bags, as well as squeeze bottles. It’s also not commonly recycled but when it is it’s used for making furniture, trash cans, trash can liners, lumber, and much more.

5 is for PP (polypropylene). It is used in products such as medicine bottles, syrup bottles, Tupperware, and plastic bottle caps. While PP isn’t typically recycled, it is accepted in many areas. When recycled it can make battery cables, ice scrapers, bins, and rakes, among other items.

6 is for PS (polystyrene). PS is widely known as Styrofoam. It’s used in making packing peanuts, coffee cups, and take-out containers. The recycling process is difficult but can be accomplished. The recycled material is used for insulation, egg cartons, rulers, and license plate frames, to name a few.

7 designates miscellaneous types of plastic that are not easy to recycle (i.e. polycarbonate PC or polylactide). PC is used in making CDs and DVDs, baby bottles, and large water bottles for dispensing. When PC can be recycled, the material can be used to make plastic lumber, as well as other custom-made items.

Do your part by always trying to use plastics that are recyclable, and please recycle whatever you can, whenever you can. Ask your favorite brands to incorporate SocialPlastic™. Maybe we can help The Plastic Bank to reduce pollution and poverty in the world. We only have one planet, and we’re all in it together — let’s keep it clean.

Image by picsfive
World’s First 3D Printed Item Made from Recycled Plastic from the Ocean,” by Derek Markham
Our Story,” by The Plastic Bank,
The Different Types Of Plastics And Classification,” by Jill Tooley
What Do Recycling Symbols on Plastics Mean?” by Brian Clark Howard