What are “ocean-bound plastics” and how are they a good (or bad) thing? I saw a tweet in my feed by SwiftOnSecurity using this term that grabbed my attention. The idea of plastics that were going to be dumped into the ocean first came to mind, but then I thought, “Why would people intentionally send plastics into the ocean?”
“Ocean bound” initially triggers negative emotions — the emotions that we may get from mental images of sea turtles stuck in a coke can ring or whales with plastic in their stomachs. At least, that’s what came to my mind when I saw the term for the first time. Though, the point they are actually making is that the plastic is not going into the ocean. Confused? Read on.
What Is Plastic Bank?
Plastic Bank’s “Impact” page claims that with the help of its supporters, its collectors have recovered over 10 million kilograms of ocean-bound plastic. There are 4,300 collectors around the world. The amount of plastic they recovered equals more than 1,500,000,000 coffee cup lids, or a line of straws that would circle the globe over 2,700 times.
Plastic Bank, according to its website, is recognized as a root-cause solution to ocean plastic. The company states that it is “turning plastic into gold by revolutionizing the world’s recycling systems to create a regenerative, inclusive, and circular plastic economy.” As a writer, I like the wording — it’s beautifully created to make you think it’s a new thing — but isn’t this just recycling? Sort of. But with a twist.
What Is Ocean-Bound Plastic?
I read it as “made of plastic that’s bound for the ocean”. What’s the other interpretation?
— Spencer Schiff (@SpencerKSchiff) May 10, 2020
According to Ocean-Bound Plastic’s website, ocean-bound plastic is a recycled raw material that can substitute virgin raw material, help protect the oceans and planet, and is part of a circular economy. The term refers to plastic waste that is at risk of ending up in the oceans. Plastic near waterways that may find its way into the oceans through rivers is a prime example. Trash left along the levee instead of being placed in the trashcans nearby is another example.
So, “ocean bound” now makes some sense since the plastic was bound for the ocean. However, I understand the criticism. Perhaps it could be used to help Plastic Bank rethink its marketing plan. Marketing is key to helping any organization get its products or ideas out into the mainstream. However, overdoing it can have its own consequences as well.
All existing plastic is bound for the ocean, so they're not wrong
— Galen Kehler (@GalenKehler) May 12, 2020
Galen Kehler, in his tweet above, summed up my exact thoughts. All plastics have a chance of ending up in the ocean eventually if they are not disposed of properly. Many people toss things into rivers and lakes, trash the beaches, and all of this ends up in our oceans. Use less plastic.