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Jun 17, 2020

Turning Ocean Plastic into Precious Plastic with Parley

How can a plastic recycling workspace inside a shipping container help to reduce plastic pollution in Maldives?

Precious Plastic recycling workspace container in Maldives
Precious Plastic recycling workspace in Maldives
This article is part of Precious Plastic, a One Army project tackling the plastic waste problem. You can learn more

If you are into the topic of plastic pollution you are probably quite aware of all the plastic in the ocean. (or maybe everyone is these days?) A lot of material floating around the world and flushing into beaches. Little islands see it flowing in every day, but usually don’t have infrastructure to deal with it. Maldives no different. It has over 1000 little islands with very minimal infrastructure for waste management. Watch this old Story Hopper video  “backstage paradise” to understand the problem.

people handling plastic bottles waste on a beach
Like the Maldives, remote (and beautiful) places and islands very often have minimal infrastructure for waste management.

So last year we made a plastic recycling workspace inside a shipping container, you might have seen it in the Version 3 Promo video. After making this video the container was shipped to the Maldives to try something out together with Parley. Find a way to deal with ocean plastic, locally. This is actually how we got started thinking about a container, finding a way to empower remote areas where limited tools are available. There are many places like this around the world which are affected by the plastic and are to far away to tap into a waste management system. And if they do collect plastic they often don’t know what to do with it, burning is a very common way to go. Very little development happens here because the big industry doesn’t like this plastic, its dirty, mixed, degraded etc. In the tiny rare case if there is recycling going on, it’s PET bottles. PP, HDPE, PS are a huge part but neglected. However it seemed like Precious Plastic fits in perfectly in these places, we love PP, HDPE, PS and are all about local recycling. Pilot #3 was born!

Ocean plastic is a new for us… It’s worn out, it’s salty it’s been in the sun. We needed to know more about it, get familiar with the material, explore its potential. So we spend time on the ground, melting shredding testing. @pauldufour started a nice topic in the forums to document this. We’ve started, but there is still so much more to explore. But a hopeful start, good quality, actually better then expected. Besides research and recycling the container is also used as a place for education, to show the young generation that plastic can be recycled. That they shouldn’t just throw it away, but keep it, recycle it. Or hopefully stop using less of it.

Click here to see the full story behind the project, more images and 17 things we learned from this project.

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You could now have a look at this previous visit to the Maldives, learn about our other pilot in Kenya or think about all of those beautiful islands and how they'll soonbe underwater unless we drastically change how we do things.