The Plastic Bank

This Entry has been submitted.

The Plastic Bank: Making plastic waste a currency to reduce global poverty

Port Au Prince, HaitiNorth Vancouver, Canada
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We make plastic waste a currency to reduce global poverty. Collectors receive an above market rate for waste plastic. Brands purchase our ethically sourced recycled Social Plastic® for use in their manufacturing. Almost one million people have already asked for brands to use Social Plastic®.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if plastic waste was too valuable to be seen as waste.
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Over 300 million tons of plastic is produced annually, yet only 5-10% gets recycled worldwide. In developing countries it’s common practice to dump plastic waste into the streets and rivers as a means of disposal. Ocean plastic kills marine life & damages our ecosystem. These same areas with beaches covered in plastic waste commonly have an abundance of poverty. 3 billion people live on less than $2.50 a day & lack reliable income opportunities.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The Plastic Bank is making plastic waste a currency that can be exchanged for hope & opportunities. We provide a market driven strategy for reducing both plastic pollution & poverty through a self-sustaining business model that also sustains local foundations that run each location. People in need collect mixed plastic waste and/or set up micro-recycling programs. They deposit the collected plastic at a Plastic Bank location. The plastic is sorted by type, weighed & collectors receive an above market return. The plastic is recycled into feedstock for brand to purchase & use as ethically sourced Social Plastic®. Our end-in-mind is to provide both an income and onsite recycled 3D printing services to empower micro-recycling entrepreneurs.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

We recently partnered with a charity called Executives Without Borders. After the 2010 earthquake they created a program in Haiti to provide incomes through recycling. However, the declining price of oil caused a drop in the commodity price of recycled plastic which dangerously decreased the income of already impoverished Haitian recyclers. In response, The Plastic Bank is now in Haiti stabilizing prices through Social Plastic®. We are reviving and expanding plastic exchange centers across Haiti. We are subsidizing the salary of EWB's Haitian employees. We are currently finalizing purchase agreements with brands who will promote the use of Social Plastic® in their products. We anticipate an immediate 2-3X increase in recycler incomes.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Since our founding in 2013 we have been raising awareness about ocean plastic & global poverty through our million person Social Plastic® movement. In 2014 we recycled 20,000 lbs of shoreline plastic. We created an open source technology to turn plastic waste into 3D printing filament. In 2014 we sorted and recycled the shoreline plastic to create the world's first 3D printed item made from ocean plastic. LUSH cosmetics became the first company to purchase our recycled Social Plastic® and use it in their Sea Spray bottle line. Next we set up a pilot project in Peru to learn about the needs of a 'waste picker' first hand. In 2015 we finalized our partnership to revive a program that impacts over 1,000 Haitians. BY 2016 we anticipate recycling over 50 million lbs of plastic waste & improving the lives of thousands of Haitian's through Social Plastic®. We will expand globally by 2017.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Within 5 years The Plastic Bank will be in every country with an abundance of plastic waste and poverty. Social Plastic® will be utilized by numerous global brands providing social impact while meeting the multi-million person consumer demand. We hope to turn The Plastic Bank into a platform for empowering global micro-entrepreneurs to ascend from poverty and solve local problems through entrepreneurship. We created The Plastic Bank with the goal to impact over 1 billion people while creating a system to prevent plastic waste from entering the ocean.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

To date The Plastic Bank has been self funded by CEO David Katz. Our triple bottom line business model is sustained by the sale of our globally trademarked Social Plastic®. When brands purchase our ethically sourced recycled plastic they are investing in social impact first and receiving the plastic after the social impact has been made.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

I am not aware of any global competition for Social Plastic®. We do not compete with informal 'waste picker' organizations. Instead we identify champions in each region that we can empower through Social Plastic®.

Founding Story

In March 2013 David Katz made a phone call to Shaun Frankson to announce an epiphany. "I've figured out our next business. It's called The Plastic Bank. We reveal value in plastic and it becomes too valuable to be treated as waste. We make plastic waste a currency to reduce global poverty. I don't know how, but we'll figure it out." Shaun coined the term Social Plastic® and launched a global PR and Social media 'movement' campaign that resulted in over 250 global media features including Forbes, TIME, & BBC. The Plastic Bank had almost 1 million Facebook fans before they fully launched in Haiti. The real 'aha' movement came from the first partnership requests from over 50 different countries.


The Plastic Bank was founded by David Katz and Shaun Frankson. We have intentionally designed a lean organization that acts as an empowerment platform for the world's disadvantaged. We scale our global expansion by partnering with local NGO's and recycling champions who are already improving lives through recycling.
About You
The Plastic Bank
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Project
Organization Name

The Plastic Bank

How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

The information you provide here will be used to fill in any parts of your profile that have been left blank, such as interests, organization information, and website. No contact information will be made public. Please uncheck here if you do not want this to happen..

Organization Country

, BC, North Vancouver

Country where this project is creating social impact

, Port Au Prince

What awards or honors has the project received?
Funding: How is your project financial supported?


Please list your date of birth (YYYY/MM/DD)


Please tell us how leadership training would help you to make an even greater impact on the social innovation field.

I constantly seek out daily opportunities to learn and grow. I have dedicated my life to creating social impact movements while using business as a force of good. I welcome any opportunity to improve my capacity for doing good on this planet.

Please enclose a short personal biography.

I played in a rock band until, at 21, a near death car accident left me bed ridden for a month. During that time I uncovered my calling and blurred end in mind to be a strategy guy. It took me some time to figure out my true DNA (default natural advantage), but once i did, i did everything I could to create my own opportunities to strategically increase my capacity for short-term & long-term fulfilment.

At 23 I started creating social good companies with the purpose to get paid in experience. Over time I created a system to Strategize the S#!t Out of anything that mattered to me. By 25 I was VP of Marketing for a multimillion dollar company. By 26 I was the Vice President of that company and automated it to the point that the CEO, David Katz, no longer needed to show up to the office.

By 29 I intentionally automated myself out of that company and, with David Katz, co-founded The Plastic Bank, a triple bottom line social enterprise that makes plastic waste a currency in developing countries to help reduce global poverty. I coined the term Social Plastic ® and created the brand strategies to launch a Social Plastic movement that gained almost a million Facebook fans and well over 250 media features before expanding globally. By 31 (This year) I signed onto my first equity stake Board of Advisors position with HeroX, an official spin off of the XPRIZE.