Plastic Bank

Plastic Bank is a for-profit social enterprise founded and based in Vancouver, British Columbia, that builds recycling ecosystems in under-developed communities in an effort to fight both plastic pollution in oceans, as well as high poverty levels in developing countries.[1][2] The company allows people living in poverty to collect plastic and trade it in for material goods such as school tuition, medical insurance, pharmaceutical access, internet access, and cooking fuel, with the aim of adding more benefits to their program in the future.[1] Plastic Bank reprocesses collected plastics for reintroduction into the supply chain.[3] They currently have operations in the Philippines, Indonesia, Brazil, and Egypt, with plans to expand into Colombia and Vietnam in the coming years[4][5]

Plastic Bank
TypePrivately held company
Founded2013, in Vancouver, BC, Canada
FounderDavid Katz and Shaun Frankson
Plastic Bank Logo.png


Plastic Bank was started in 2013 by co-founders David Katz and Shaun Frankson.[3] Their idea was to transform plastics into a form of currency for impoverished peoples.[3][6] Katz initially came up with the idea for their model at an arcade, where people would trade in tickets for prizes.[6] He took this idea to create a system in which that same kind of value would be applied to what people discard, effectively creating a currency, tradable for material goods or services.[6][7]

  • Late-2013: First pilot collection center in Lima, Peru[8]
  • March 2015: First full ecosystem launched in Haiti, following the success of the pilot program in Lima[9][10]
  • September 2016: App development begins in partnership with IBM[11]
  • November 2016: Expansion into the Philippines launched[11]
  • November 2017: Partnership with Henkel announced[11][12]
  • July 2018: Expansion into Indonesia launched[11]
  • November 2019: Plans for Egypt expansion with Henkel announced[13]


Plastic Bank claims that as of 2020, they have collected over 14,147,000 kg (13,924 long tons; 15,594 short tons) of plastic,[14] through over 21,000 collectors[14] in their 4 countries. The company claims that this figure for plastic is equivalent to over 707,367,900 plastic water bottles, 1.5 million plastic coffee cup lids, and 500 million plastic straws[14]

Plastic Bank has introduced collection bins into school environments to help students practice recycling early on.[14] They also employ “Plastic Bank Ambassadors” to promote environmental education in Haiti[14]


  • 2019: Prix Voltaire International Award[15]
  • 2019: Green Tech - Game Changer of the Year[16]
  • 2019: SDG Action Award - Connector[17]
  • 2018: Nature Inspiration Award[18]
  • 2017: UN Momentum for Change Award (COP23)[19]
  • 2015: Sustania Community Award (COP21)[20]
  • 2014: EO Global Citizen Award[21]
  • 2014: RCBC Environmental Award for Innovation[22]


  1. ^ a b Barbaschow, Asha. "Plastic Bank treating plastic like currency to tackle waste and poverty". ZDNet. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  2. ^ "The Plastic Bank - Heroes of the Sea". Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  3. ^ a b c "What if We Turned Plastic Waste into a Valuable Currency?". Ever Widening Circles. 2019-08-18. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  4. ^ Tom Page (15 November 2019). "We're throwing away a fortune in plastic every year. This company is cleaning up". CNN. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  5. ^ "EGYPT: Henkel joins forces with Plastic Bank to recover plastic waste". Afrik 21. 2020-02-19. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  6. ^ a b c "Entrepreneur looks to reduce both plastic waste and poverty". 2015-11-20. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  7. ^ adove (2013-07-12). "Changing plastics into currency". Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  8. ^ "Peru's Plastic Banks Turn Waste Into Currency". Pop-Up City. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  9. ^ Diotte-Lyles, Rachel (2019-12-16). "The Plastic Bank". thegrassrootsjournal. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  10. ^ "The Plastic Bank: Banking what the sea spits back". Project Breakthrough. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  11. ^ a b c d "History". Plastic Bank. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  12. ^ Henkel. "Transforming waste into opportunity". Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  13. ^ Henkel. "Henkel extends partnership with Plastic Bank". Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  14. ^ a b c d e "Our Impact | Stop Ocean Plastic & Reduce Poverty with Plastic Bank". Plastic Bank. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  15. ^ "2019". Prix Voltaire International. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  16. ^ Aless, About the Author /; Besse', ro du (2019-06-05). "The 2019 Green Awards: Innovation For a Sustainable Future". Impakter. Retrieved 2020-09-02. {{cite web}}: |first1= has generic name (help)
  17. ^ "2019 ENTRIES". SDG Action Awards. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  18. ^ "2018 Award Winners: Nature Inspiration Awards | Canadian Museum of Nature". Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  19. ^ "UN Momentum for Change Award (COP23)". Plastic Bank. 2017-07-18. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  20. ^ Eco-Business. "Game-changers honoured at Sustainia Awards 2015". Eco-Business. Retrieved 2020-09-02. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  21. ^ "Revealing the Value of People - March 2015 - Entrepreneurs' Organization". Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  22. ^ rcbc (2010-02-02). "Previous RCBC Award Winners". Recycling Council of British Columbia. Retrieved 2020-09-02.