The surprising solution to ocean plastic | David Katz

The surprising solution to ocean plastic | David Katz

We’ve had it all wrong. Everybody. We’ve had it all wrong. The very last thing we need to do is clean the ocean. Very last. Yeah, there is a garbage truck of plastic entering the ocean every minute of every hour of every day. And countless birds and animals are dying just from encountering plastic. We are experiencing
the fastest rate of extinction ever, and plastic is in the food chain. And I’m still here,
standing in front of you, telling you the very last
thing we need to do is clean the ocean. Very last. If you were to walk into a kitchen, sink overflowing, water spilling all over the floor, soaking into the walls, you had to think fast,
you’re going to panic; you’ve got a bucket, a mop or a plunger. What do you do first? Why don’t we turn off the tap? It would be pointless to mop or plunge or scoop up the water if we don’t turn off the tap first. Why aren’t we doing the same
for the ocean? Even if the Ocean Cleanup project, beach plastic recycling programs or any well-meaning ocean plastic company was a hundred percent successful, it would still be too little, too late. We’re trending to produce
over 300 million ton of plastic this year. Roughly eight million ton are racing to flow into the ocean to join the estimated
150 million ton already there. Reportedly, 80 percent of ocean plastic is coming from those countries
that have extreme poverty. And if you live in the grips of poverty concerned, always, about food or shelter or a sense of security, recycling — it’s beyond your realm of imagination. And that is exactly why I created the Plastic Bank. We are the world’s largest chain of stores for the ultra-poor, where everything in the store
is available to be purchased using plastic garbage. Everything. School tuition. Medical insurance. Wi-Fi, cell phone minutes, power. Sustainable cooking fuel,
high-efficiency stoves. And we keep wanting to add everything else that the world may need and can’t afford. Our chain of stores in Haiti
are more like community centers, where one of our collectors, Lise Nasis, has the opportunity to earn a living by collecting material from door to door, from the streets, from business to business. And at the end of her day,
she gets to bring the material back to us, where we weigh it,
we check it for quality, and we transfer the value
into her account. Lise now has a steady, reliable source of income. And that value we transfer
into an online account for her. And because it’s a savings account,
it becomes an asset that she can borrow against. And because it’s online, she has security against robbery, and I think more importantly, she has a new sense of worth. And even the plastic has a new sense of value. Hm. And that plastic we collect, and we add value to, we sort it, we remove labels, we remove caps. We either shred it or we pack it into bales
and get it ready for export. Now, it’s no different
than walking over acres of diamonds. If Lise was to walk over acres of diamonds but there was no store, no bank, no way to use the diamonds,
no way to exchange them, they’d be worthless, too. And Lise was widowed after the 2010 Haitian earthquake, left homeless without an income. And as a result of the program, Lise can afford her two
daughters’ school tuition and uniforms. Now, that plastic we sell. We sell it to suppliers of great brands like Marks and Spencer, who have commissioned
the use of social plastic in their products. Or like Henkel, the German consumer-goods company, who are using social plastic
directly into their manufacturing. We’ve closed the loop in the circular economy. Now buy shampoo or laundry detergent that has social plastic packaging, and you are indirectly contributing to the extraction of plastic
from ocean-bound waterways and alleviating poverty at the same time. And that model is completely replicable. In São Paulo, a church sermon encourages parishioners to not just bring offering on Sunday, but the recycling, too. We then match the church with the poor. Or, I believe more powerfully, we could match a mosque in London
with an impoverished church in Cairo. Or like in Vancouver, with our bottle-deposit program: now any individual or any group can now return their deposit-refundable recyclables, and instead of taking back the cash, they have the opportunity
to deposit that value into the account of the poor
around the world. We can now use our recycling to support and create recyclers. One bottle deposited at home could help extract
hundreds around the world. Or, like Shell, the energy company, who’s invested in our
plastic-neutral program. Plastic neutrality is like carbon-neutral. But plastic neutrality invests
in recycling infrastructure where it doesn’t exist. And it provides an incentive for the poor by providing a price increase. Or — like in the slums of Manila, where the smallest market with a simple scale and a phone can now accept social plastic as a new form of payment by weight, allowing them to serve more people and have their own greater social impact. And what’s common here is that social plastic is money. Social plastic is money, a globally recognizable and tradable
currency that, when used, alleviates poverty
and cleans the environment at the same time. It’s not just plastic. It’s not recycled plastic,
it’s social plastic, a material whose value is transferred through the lives
of the people who encounter it, rich and poor. Humans have produced over eight trillion kilograms of plastic, most of it still here as waste. Eight trillion kilograms. Worth roughly 50 cents a kilo, we’re potentially unleashing
a four-trillion-dollar value. See, I see social plastic as the Bitcoin for the earth — (Laughter) and available for everyone. Now the entire ecosystem
is managed and supported through an online banking platform that provides for the safe,
authentic transfer of value globally. You can now deposit your recyclables
in Vancouver or Berlin, and a family could withdraw
building bricks or cell phone minutes in the slums of Manila. Or Lise — she could deposit recycling
at a center in Port-au-Prince, and her mother could withdraw
cooking fuel or cash across the city. And the app adds rewards, incentives, group prizes, user rating. We’ve gamified recycling. We add fun and formality into an informal industry. We’re operating in Haiti
and the Philippines. We’ve selected staff and partners for Brazil. And this year, we’re committing
to India and Ethiopia. We’re collecting hundreds and hundreds of tons of material. We continue to add partners and customers, and we increase our collection
volumes every day. Now as a result
of our program with Henkel, they’ve committed to use
over 100 million kilograms of material every year. That alone will put
hundreds of millions of dollars into the hands of the poor in the emerging economies. And so now, we can all be a part of the solution and not the pollution. And so, OK, maybe
cleaning the ocean is futile. It might be. But preventing ocean plastic could be humanity’s richest opportunity. Thank you. (Applause)

61 thoughts on “The surprising solution to ocean plastic | David Katz

  1. Literally hate the overwhelming majority of mindless lemmings that go about there day just carelessly destroying the planet liberal capitalism has destroyed this planet can't wait for the economic collapse or a nuclear holocaust one of the two will be better than this clown world we have now

  2. Y'know. I was thinking about his idea of the poor using plastics to enchange for goods. If we applied this idea that in the future our cash is plastic in exchange for goods. I think most of the plastics in the oceans will be gone bc people would stop being lazy but instead fetching plastics to buy some goods. And the plastics exchanged could be recycled. If this would happen because in the world there are billions of people and there are billions of plastics in the oceans. They would be gone in no time. Just a theory built on his idea

  3. 👏👏👏👏👏👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿

  4. This should be everyone’s main concern!!! The wildlife and ocean life die off we are in serious trouble!!! Main two problems in the world over population and over consumption!!! I avoid plastic and recycle as much as possible!!! A lot of plastic can’t even be put in the recycling bin!!! I try to buy food items that come in glass or cardboard, everyone needs to avoid single use plastics!!!

  5. I live on the banks of the Cái River in Vietnam. At no time is is it not possible to see plastic floating down the river to the ocean. It is a continuous stream. I have been told that some arms of the Mekong are so polluted with plastic people walk across them.

  6. Why not use the waste heat from spent nuclear fuel to set up plastic to oil pyrolysis facilities? The thermal energy to convert the plastic would be free and the resultant oil is ready to use as sulfur & particulate free diesel fuel.

  7. removing the toxic waste fluorosilicic acid from drinking water would reduce bottled water purchases. Half of the people do no not want to take fluorosilicic acid and its derivatives internally. a basic human right of consent is a valuable thing. write your councillor

  8. Just a businessman promoting his business. Recycling has been going on forever by everyone including poor communitys.

  9. У нас монополия по сдаче пластика. Во всём городе стоят ящики из металлической сетки и туда можно кидать пластиковые бутылки, за это денег не получишь…

  10. How can anyone vote thumbs down for this? It's brilliant, and not even a pipedream — it's already a reality! Very exciting. Thank you, Mr. Katz.

  11. What ? You recycling plastics?
    You just send your plastics to Philipine, Malaysia, Indonesia….

    Just another bullshit…

  12. We do NOT recycle in this country – we SORT. We've been duped into believing what we put in the bins acutally gets re-used by these companies creating all this plastic. It does not. You are lecturing to the wrong crowd. Companies must stop creating all this plastic.

  13. You carry a 350 gms mobile everywhere with you…..also carry a 250 gm bag while going to market….at our end atleast we can do this

  14. What he is doing is laudable but it still only addresses the symptoms. To extend his analogy, he's scooping water out of the sink, but the spigot is still running. The people & companies making money while extending the pollution are not being held accountable. Legislate that they must stamp an identifying code on each piece, then they can be charged for the cleanup, and they will have an incentive to use less/more sustainable solutions.

  15. Wonderful idea!!! This and the great ocean cleanup project launched at the pacific garbage patch recently are part of the sweeping fixes taking place to make a world of difference.

  16. This Ted talks is bollocks. Shipping plastic collected and exported will still end up being dumped somewhere else

  17. The real problem is oil giant company like Shell, Exxon 🌬️☄️♻️🐾🕊️🐝🍃🎑🎋🎏

  18. There will be a time, when supermarkets become more of an urban farm than product warehouse. They will have the space to grow everything, vertically. The chicken coop will be a lush garden in the rooftop. The fish and shellfish will actually be in very nice ponds and streams, where the water will recirculate to fertilize the plants, like your average aquaponic system but smarter and massive. The red meat fridge area will practically dissappear, unless you go buy it directly at a farm when available and limited. There will be products grown elsewhere too, like grains and legumes and specialty items. But seasonal fruits, vegetables, eggs and fish will be as local as it gets. Plastic containers won't even be a thing.

  19. Why not both? The big patch in the pacific has to be dealt with. But this idea of socialplastic is quite good.

  20. The biggest lie we all participate in today is the belief plastics can be indefinitely recycled. They cannot as the chemical properties break down each time its reheated and reformed into something else generally as a lower quality product.

  21. First of all let's talk talk about OVERPOPULATION. That a basic problem that nobody is willing to address. Just a reminder: in 1950 the world population was 2,5 billion people on this planet… now in 2019 we are near 8 billion. It's out of control situation. Birth control programs must be available throughout the planet. Free vasectomy and tubal ligation should be available to all men and women who want to put an end to procreation.

    Second major problem is wild capitalism based on consumerism and greed. Time has come to adopt sustainable lifestyles. That means limit ourselves to basic needs, drastic decrease of animal products, stop overfishing and deforestation, ban GMOs, fracking and ocean drilling.

    We're doomed if we don't fix those major problems.

  22. Wtf I pay for my recycle company to come collect my recyclables and people get paid for their recyclables? 🤔

  23. A person is worthy based on being human, not by how much money they have. That's a way superficial humans judge another's worthiness by. But in the grand scheme of things, a beggar and a billionaire are worth the same. Most people can't see things that way. Their ego is clouding their vision.

  24. This report explains in detail why we need immediate collective action “akin in scale to the World War II emergency mobilization”.

    To achieve such a feat as cleaning our oceans, un-'desertifying' land, vertically farming, regrowing trees, removing man-made debris from orbit (technosphere), the potential evacuation of billions of people from the equator – it will take global 'militarisation' against the threat. Dropping our tools and taking up 'arms'. The combined resources of navies can tackle the oceans (my idea is deep sea ai robotics), air forces the technosphere, and armies the land. And this is just a bandage. We still need to fundamentally change our way of life to one of respect and curiosity for our world and ourselves.

    The obvious difficulty is the unification part. We don't like war with no immediate spoils, or to aim our weapons away from other countries, or to effectively become, at least temporarily, states of Earth, subject to a wider contract or council. Unfortunately, if nothing changes, the families, livelihoods, freedoms, cultures and landscapes we're told we're protecting will soon be gone. Unless we work for our Eden, Zion, Heaven or Utopia whilst we have the chance, we will certainly be met with flames, floods famine and plague. Summer is coming…

    Props to TED.

  25. when i look at how wealthy people consume and what they consume and how much they consume just in my environment, i'm pretty sure a wealthy person actually produces far more plastic waste than a poor person… wealthy people love shopping at stores like Woolworths where the word green is printed on everything, but packaging is often layers of plastic, just for a simple ready-made meal… wealthy people also tend to be big on bottled water in plastic bottles that they never re-use…

  26. Miliards of plastic sources takes hundreads years to Disapere? It takes few days to grow bambo ) few years to clean up / press plastic collect :/ cover up with Bambo silika / clear zywica / and build eco walls/eco panels / eco bricks ? Eco glass walls with eco bambo coating Or even oceans/ water / roads tunnels / plastic can be reused with eco coatings …….house plastic panels could be a solution in free lands as rescue plastic community low income families /- is all about choice money or a life and chance fir all “

  27. here is my question: how come all the 3rd world countries have the most plastic on their streets and in their rivers? Are we sending them 0.5l water bottles instead of cisterns? I am talking about the villages he is talking about, where these people have no steady income, and live in extreme poverty. They can't afford food but they afford stuff in plastic packaging?

  28. “Because it’s online, she has security against robbery.” 🤣🤣🤣
    But I like the nerve to think out of the box! 👍

    I would feel a little better if it were on a blockchain that no government or central banking oligarchs could ever regulate. But that, may be harder to accomplish than cleaning the oceans. We have a better shot at that! Still, social plastic sounds like a good idea. Who’s in? Maybe we could eventually end the need for money after all!

  29. I’m glad there’s a plan to collect the plastic but then what? Packing it for export? So it can sit in a third world port and some of it can be recycled to make clothing. The rest is still a huge problem.

  30. I absolutly love your solution to plastic giving it value and saving the planet at one time giving jobs and self respect. Awesome I think every country should take a look at what you are doing. Fabulous

  31. I think all of us must work collaboratively, we do what we can do for our environment. There is no less than the other in terms of our efforts in cleaning up the mess we mde for our environment.

  32. You are basically criticizing cleaning up plastic in the ocean, but your business model is cleaning up plastic on land. You are implementing the same idea you criticize. This solution is not closing the tap. It is cleaning up by using human labor and profiting off of it. Which is fine, since the plastic needs to be cleaned up. But this is not closing the tap. You are closing the loop of plastic, but you are not closing the tap. You are putting a hose from the faucet back into the tube before the faucet (whatever that may be).

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