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Plastic Credits. How they work

Plastic Credits. How they work

Just like carbon, a system for offsetting plastic pollution was always coming. And just like carbon, even if it's a 'Get out of Jail' card, it's a step in the right direction

What exactly is a plastic credit? It is pretty much what it says on the plastic jar - a transferable certificate representing the collection of a specified weight of recovered or recycled plastic waste that would otherwise have ended up polluting the natural environment. Each plastic credit is worth one tonne of plastic waste.

The size of the plastic problem is ginormous

Approximately 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced since the 1950s, of which 6.3 billion tonnes are now waste. The opportunities for Plastic Credits are as big as the cost of recovery and as vast as the ocean and half the planet's land mass.

How are plastic credits created? By collection of otherwise uncollected plastic.

Projects working in partnership with plastic credit-issuing organizations, work on the ground to collect plastic waste that would otherwise not have been collected. This means plastic waste that without the intervention would have entered the natural environment. Each kilogram of plastic recycled or recovered by an impact project, equals a certified Plastic Credit that can be issued.

Trading Plastic Credits

Plastic credits were created by rePurpose Global to incentivize the removal and recovery of plastic waste. Companies and NFPs are either a seller or purchaser of plastic credits - issued in different forms through plastic-waste recovery organizations; including Plastic Bank, CleanhubSeven Clean Seas, South Pole, and Plastic Credit Exchange. (Greencollar are set to issue in Australia.)

Plastic Credits are listed on the registry, which is managed by Verra, a Washington DC-based NFP. (Verra develops and manages global environmental standards.) 

Funds from offsets go to plastic credit funding and can finance crucial infrastructure, and facilitate the recovery and recycling of plastic waste that would have otherwise ended up in the natural environment. Plastic credits are thereby a powerful financing tool to fund solutions to the global plastic pollution problem and empower waste innovators on the ground who are desperately in need of financing - especially in poorer countries.

Integrity of Plastic Credits

Plastic credits must be measurable, traceable and verifiable so they can be purchased by organizations and other end users to take action on their ‘plastic footprint.’

All Plastic Credit issuance and retirement records are publicly available on the Verra registry and credits only count if registered. One upside of big money being the responsible plastics polluters means that systems like these are always going to be robust from the outset. 

Plastic Neutral

Once a business has an accurate measure of it's plastic footprint, plastic credits can enable businesses to offset their plastic footprint and go Plastic Neutral by eliminating as much plastic waste from nature as they use.

What do Plastic Credits mean to everyday Citizens?

While Citizens can't yet buy plastic credits, you can have influence. It's not as if plastic packaging is hard to spot. If you do buy anything in plastic packaging, especially from any of the big food and beverage manufacturers, ask the question. Is your plastic offset and do you take responsibility for end collection? 

Image: Plastic Ocean by Tan Zi Xi

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