Or just an accelerator in professionalizing the branch?
The questions to be answered:
Are you willing to pay more for rPET if it’s been labeled as Ocean Bound Plastic ?
And what if some of the rPET doesn’t apply to the definition ?
Will traceability and certification be standard in a quality program ?
The term Ocean Bound plastics leads in almost every case back to Jenna Jambeck. The definition of Ocean-bound plastic was defined and published in Science in 2015:
- [Waste plastic] found within 50km distance of an ocean coastline or major waterway that feeds into the ocean
- The country or region lacks waste management infrastructure and collection incentives
- The infrastructure is being overwhelmed by population growth or tourism
- There is a significant risk to wildlife if plastic contaminates their ecosystem.
Nowadays companies are offering ocean-bound plastic as an alternative option anduse her definition as a basis for their marketing activities and corporate social responsibility programs. Most of the companies made their own interpretation of the definition and changed or added specifications!
Needless to say that collecting these plastics before they reach oceans is a useful initiative. It is also easier and cheaper than once they have drowned in the bottom of oceans or are dispersed as a soup of micro particles. It is commonly admitted that 80% of plastic in the seas, comes from land.
Using the definition of OBP will introduce the aspect of traceability. It gives converters, buyers, manufacturers and consumers a better insight in the origins of the material next to a better feeling for consumers that they are doing the right thing! Plastic waste and pollution originate from several different sources. Besides Ocean Bound Plastic, also plastic is collected as a by-product of production and manufacturing, in streams, rivers flowing to the ocean, material washed up on coasts and of course in the ocean itself.
Local communities in at-risk areas where plastic will end up in the oceans will profit from the term Ocean Bound Plastic. They will be incentivized to collect, sort and process plastic waste into high-quality recycled material. Also consumers with the option to purchase products packaged in recycled material that has been proven to come from at-risk regions of the world will feel good to contribute to the reduction of waste and pollution.
The same consumers will ask for traceability and preferably a third party certification to be sure they bought the right, more expensive, goods. But can traceability be 100% guaranteed and what will be the consequences for communities and initiatives outside of the area defined for Ocean Bound Plastic ?
The process of making it traceable and also certified makes the branch more professional and helps to achieve quality standards. It also contributes to a better awareness of our worldwide problem with waste and pollution. But these initiatives in the process also make the material more expensive. The questions I have:
- Are you as a buyer, manufacturer, consumer willing to pay more knowing where the material, with the same quality, is coming from?
- Do you mind if a part of the recycled material is not applying to the ocean bound plastic definition?
- Will traceability and certification (more than a CoO or Form A) be standard in the future for any recycled material?
In essence, we should pay more for material from an at-risk area because we prevented the material from entering the ocean. However, the converters and traders are under pressure from brands that want them to supply recycled content at the lowest possible price. It will be a financially challenging situation for recyclers.
Let’s find it out together! Dutch PET Recycling is also working with suppliers offering Ocean Bound Plastic.