An Innovative Partnership between SC Johnson and Plastic Bank Reduces Plastic Pollution, Addresses Poverty

SC Johnson and Plastic Bank are creating new economic opportunities in impoverished communities and preventing plastic from ending up in waterways.
SC Johnson has opened nine Plastic Bank recycling centres in Indonesia with plans to expand. Collectors earn a fair wage for recovering plastic before it gets into waterways.
One of the key reasons plastic ends up in the ocean and other waterways is that in many communities around the world, there isn’t formal infrastructure in place for waste collection, much less recycling.

People have no way to get rid of their rubbish, so it collects on roads, in alleys and in other areas, and gets washed away by rain. In some cases, it’s even the norm for people to throw rubbish into the river, to take it away from their home.

At SC Johnson, we recognised this as an area where we could help make a difference. Of course, no one single business can substitute for municipal infrastructure, but through a partnership with Plastic Bank, we’ve begun to make an impact.
SC Johnson is the first CPG company to scale a programme of this kind in Indonesia that will benefit a wide range of socioeconomic demographics including local residents living below the poverty level.
David Katz, Founder and CEO of Plastic Bank
In October 2018, we launched a partnership with Plastic Bank, one of the leading organisations working to reduce the global crisis of ocean plastic. Together, we opened nine recycling centres in Indonesian communities with high levels of plastic pollution and poverty.

We chose to start in Indonesia because it has the world’s highest levels of marine biodiversity, yet also has high plastic pollution that puts this marine biodiversity at risk. The country has pledged up to US$1 billion per year to reduce the amount of plastic and other pollution in its waters.
women recycling plastic bottle
Nyoman Darti collects plastic waste at a recycling centre opened by SC Johnson and Plastic Bank in Bali. These centres provide recycling infrastructure in communities that don’t have it.
Our Plastic Bank partnership helps enable a circular economy for plastic. Individuals gather plastic — diverting it before it makes its way into waterways — and bring it to a collection centre in exchange for digital tokens they can use to buy needed goods and services.

Collectors in the Plastic Bank programme use an app built on Blockchain technology that provides a safe, trusted way to get paid for the plastic they collect. It’s essentially a digital bank account — for some collectors, the first bank account they’ve ever had.
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Because they are paid in digital tokens, collectors are able to earn and spend without the risk of loss or theft. Nearly 28 million Indonesians live below the poverty line and could greatly benefit from a programme of this scale.

Each centre can handle at least 100 metric tons of plastic a year, with opportunities to exceed that in the future. As a result, they are each expected to provide economic opportunities for hundreds of local waste collectors.

gentleman collecting plastic from around the city
Plastic collectors, like Wayan, gather plastic that might otherwise leak into local waterways. They bring it to a Plastic Bank centre or to the mobile unit when it visits their neighbourhood.  
He’s been collecting plastic for 19 years, but for most of that time, he didn’t have a way to know how much he was collecting or what the different types of plastic were worth.

Selling the plastic he collected also wasn’t reliable. He would bring it to middlemen in the local waste industry, and while sometimes he would be paid for his work, other times they would take the plastic he had collected but not give him a fair wage.

Now that he’s working with Plastic Bank, the transactions are digitalised. He knows exactly how much he is earning and why. He doesn’t have to keep doing other jobs to make ends meet. And for the first time he has a digital bank account where he saves his income.
plastic collectors getting paid in digital coin
The plastic is evaluated and the collector receives market rate for it based on type and rate. Collectors are paid in digital tokens that can be exchanged for goods and services like cooking fuel and electric charging. 
As part of this programme, SC Johnson will begin using Social Plastic® sourced by Plastic Bank recycling centres with the launch of a 100% Social Plastic® Windex® bottle in 2020.

This plastic, which is unlike anything else on the market, includes recycled ocean-bound plastic sourced from Plastic Bank in Haiti, the Philippines and Indonesia. This not only helps the environment, but also benefits people living below the poverty level. Each bottle represents economic opportunity for the programme’s participants.

Over time, SC Johnson hopes to expand both our use of Social Plastic® and our partnership with Plastic Bank. China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand account for more than 55 percent of the plastic waste that leaks into the ocean. They also have millions of families who could benefit from the economic opportunities provided by a programme like this.
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In February 2019, SC Johnson Chairman and CEO Fisk Johnson was joined by Plastic Bank CEO David Katz for a presentation at GreenBiz 2019. Together, they highlighted our partnership in Indonesia, and the need for other organisations to take action, too.

As Fisk noted, “I want to continue the momentum that’s building out there around awareness of this issue, because that’s going to help us solve it. With the attention this issue has gotten around the world, we’re at a tipping point. Business has an opportunity to embrace this change and continue to drive attention to this issue.”
SC Johnson is the first CPG company to scale a programme of this kind in Indonesia that will benefit a wide range of socioeconomic demographics including local residents living below the poverty level.
David Katz, Founder and CEO of Plastic Bank

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