With an estimated 8 million tons of plastic disposed of in oceans every year, plastic waste in the world’s waterways has become a truly global problem. According to the Ocean Conservancy, over half of the plastic that ends up in our oceans come from five countries – China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam – a result of rapidly growing economies and consumer demand, which have not yet been met with sustainable waste-management systems.
In recognition of this growing epidemic, Trenton-based TerraCycle created The TerraCycle Global Foundation. With generous financial support from The PepsiCo Foundation, the company’s philanthropic arm, the TerraCycle Global Foundation is a dedicated public charity on a mission to dramatically reduce the volume of marine debris and plastic waste found in the world’s waterways.
“Tackling plastic waste is vital for both environmental protection and economic development in communities across the world,” said Jon Banner, EVP Global Communications and President, The PepsiCo Foundation. “At PepsiCo, we take very seriously our commitment to building a world where plastic need never become waste. We are proud to be the angel investor to create the TerraCycle Global Foundation, helping to catalyze funding others and enable the recovery of tons of plastic waste from our waters.”
The TerraCycle Global Foundation’s work is actively underway in Thailand, where the TerraCycle Thai Foundation, a locally registered independent non-profit, is collaborating with the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR). The Foundation has installed river plastic capture traps which are designed to increase the amount of debris and marine plastics that are collected from Thai waterways, thereby intercepting it before it reaches and pollutes the ocean. The devices are part of the DMCR’s project to integrate action and participation into marine debris management.
Through its relationships with regional waste management companies, as well as TerraCycle Inc.’s larger network of research and development, and logistical and processing partners, the Foundation will sustainably recycle not only the waste collected through its own collection devices and efforts, but also the waste collected by all the other organizations participating in the Thai government’s marine debris management program. The end goal is to use recycled waste to create materials that can be incorporated in various applications—from primary packaging for major global brands to applications such as road or construction materials.
“Cleaning the country’s rivers and canals is a critically important priority for the Thai government,” said Suwan Nanthasarut, senior advisor, DMCR. “The Department of Marine and Coastal Resources is pleased to have public-private cooperation from nonprofit organizations like the TerraCycle Thai Foundation to assist in our river cleanup efforts.”
With plans to expand to local communities throughout central and Southeast Asia where local waste management systems are overwhelmed, the TerraCycle Global Foundation is working to implement a multi-collaborator, circular system of solutions designed to clean up waterways, increase waste collection and capture more recyclable material. The Foundation will also be educating local communities on how their behaviors impact their environment and ways to prevent and reduce plastic pollution.
“Through the Foundation, we hope to lead international public awareness about the need to address river and ocean plastics” said Tom Szaky, chairman of the board, TerraCycle Global Foundation. “By directly collecting, as well as engaging with a wide range of NGOs to collect plastic from waterways, and using our recycling solutions to process it into a high-grade material that manufacturers can integrate it into new products, we want to show there is value in these otherwise discarded plastics.”
By capturing marine plastic waste and finding recycling solutions for the collected materials, the Foundation offers a holistic approach to reducing plastic waste to create meaningful, long-lasting change that can be replicated across around the world.
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