Trash to Cash – The Plastic Bank


It’s money in the bank” is an old way of referring to the value of a sure thing.

Triple bottom line” is a relatively new way of accounting for the value of a business enterprise in terms of its generation of 1) Profit, and the value it adds to 2) People and 3) the Planet.

Over the past few years, I have been following the progress of two social innovators, David Katz and Shaun Frankson, who in May of 2013 came up with the idea for Plastic Bank, an outstanding triple bottom line business that literally turns trash into cash.

The Idea:

Monetize plastic trash on a massive scale and put money in the bank for the people who collect it.

The Goal:

To help more than a billion people, while solving a big problem, plastic trash on land and in the ocean.

Plastic Bank has created a simple mechanism for ordinary people to extract the value from plastic trash, so that more of us will treat it as something that is valuable, instead of treating it as, well, trash.

A discarded plastic bottle on the ground or floating in the ocean is easy to see as someone else’s problem. I didn’t put it there, why should I pick it up and recycle it?

How many of us have had that thought, even as we mourn the growing pile-up of waste on our planet?

A discarded plastic bottle that’s readily convertible to cash, on the other hand, is a valuable commodity.

The discarded plastic becomes easily accessible money.

How many people will walk past an abandoned dollar bill?

Not many.

The Impact:

David and Shaun only started in earnest in 2014, but they have already created a Social Plastic® brand for the Plastic Bank that has over 1 million followers on Facebook.

Individuals from more than 130 countries have signed a petition to start government supported plastic-to-cash enterprises and David and Shaun have received requests from over 75 countries to start Plastic Banks.

Plastic-to-cash businesses are up and running in Peru and Haiti and companies such as Lush Cosmetics have been buying their recycled plastic.

In less than three years, Social Plastic® has literally turned mountains of trash into meaningful cash, putting money in the bank or on the table for thousands of people who, in some cases, have no other source of income.

Recognizing that even exchange-type banking systems aren’t supportable everywhere in the world, Plastic Bank is also working to create a barter system in areas where the financial system does not function normally.

As an example, in Haiti, people can turn in 40-50 plastic bottles to Social Plastic® and receive electricity from solar panels that can be used to charge cell phones, important forms of communication and commerce for people in rural areas that do not have access to hard line phones.

I could go on and on, but maybe the best way to end is with the following quote from Robert Swan, OBE, who was the first person ever to walk unsupported to both the North and South poles:

“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”

Don’t wait for someone else.

Take a look at the following and then click HERE to learn how you can help make sure this Triple Bottom Line venture reaches its full potential!


Preston McSwain is first and foremost a proud dad. To see more of his posts, and follow him on social media, please visit the following:


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