Launching in stores on Tuesday (November 6), the reusable bag is made from 75% ‘Social Plastic’, which is plastic waste that has been collected and recycled by The Plastic Bank: a global social enterprise seeking to stop ocean plastic pollution. Billed as the world’s only organisation to monetize plastic waste, it provides incentives to the world’s disadvantaged to collect and trade plastic waste as a currency.
The Plastic Bank is incentivizing people in Haiti and the Philippines – two areas which are highly polluted with plastic – to collect waste and take it to one of 36 recycling centres in return for a wage. Collectors can alternatively exchange waste plastic for tokens that can be used to buy goods such as food, water, cooking stoves or fuel.
Recycling centres in the Philippines’ capital of Manila sort the plastic by type and colour and shred it to create flakes, which are then exported to Vietnam where the M&S bag is made. The Plastic Bank has recycled the equivalent of over 100 million plastic bottles since opening its first centre in the Caribbean country of Haiti in 2014.
The Plastic Bank founder and ceo David Katz commented: “M&S has powerfully responded to customer demand for sustainable products and created an immediate impact on the lives of our collectors.
“The M&S team has been incredibly committed to our partnership and thanks to their support, Plastic Bank is empowered to stop more ocean plastic, help more people out of poverty and make responsible production the standard for businesses everywhere. We couldn’t be more pleased to start our journey together.”
The bag has been launched as part of M&S’ Plastics Plan, which includes removing 1,000 tonnes of plastic packaging in less than a year and replacing the 75 million pieces of plastic cutlery given out in its stores each year with FSC-certified wood alternatives.
The retailer’s product developer Natalie Tate said: “With more plastic than fish predicted to be in the ocean by 2050, it’s vital that we all take action to minimise plastic waste. We’re reducing the amount of plastic we use as a business and developing smart ways to help our customers reduce the amount of plastic they use.
“This is a strong, sturdy, practical bag to help our customers with their shop, but with the added benefit of reducing poverty and preventing more plastic getting into our seas by turning waste plastic into a tangible and reusable item.”
The bag costs £1.30 and will be available across UK stores.
For more information on Plastic Bank visit https://www.plasticbank.com/