Plastic pollution targeted by Richmond company
VANCOUVER -- Did you know that most of the world’s plastic pollution can’t be recycled? The technology isn’t quite there yet to recycle particular kinds of plastics, like multi-layered pouches.
It’s become a huge problem for developing countries that don’t have the resources to deal with it, and much of it ends up in open-pit landfills where it’s either burned or blown away, ending up in streams, rivers and eventually the oceans.
Berlin-based Cleanhub is trying to do something about it, seeking partners to help developing countries deal with the problem. Cleanhub has recently focused on Indonesia with a local group called Tridi Oasis helping to tackle plastic pollution there.
And Richmond-based Ocean Brands signed up to join the effort.
“It’s the second largest fishery in the world and the fishery’s really at threat because of all the plastic,” said Ian Ricketts, Ocean Brands' president.
Cleanhub pays workers in developing countries, including Indonesia, to collect, sort and divert the plastic so it can be shipped for recycling, if there are facilities close enough. Plastic that cannot be recycled is turned into fuel for cement processing.
“The material’s pre-processed. It is an engineered fuel that goes in there somewhere. It’s not just burned somewhere but really incinerated in a safe environment,” said Joel Tasche, Cleanhub co-founder.
Tasche emphasizes it's burned in a controlled high-heat incineration process with emission controls and leaves no ash behind.
He quit his software job three years ago to establish Cleanhub, focus on plastic pollution and help create a circular economy to involve every industry and business that has anything to do with plastic.
“In this process we make zero money, we only pay,” said Tasche.
That means partners like Ocean Brands are required to help offset the costs. In 2017, Ocean Brands says it started to reduce the amount of plastic used in its packaging and that it’s on track to reduce it by more than half by the end of this year.
While no one believes plastic will ever go away, the goal is to be able to recycle more than half of it within 20 years. But until the technology exists to do that, it's going to take a co-ordinated effort to deal with it.
“I think it’s going to take everybody,” said Ricketts.