Ellen Jackowski: You can't really go anywhere without finding plastic waste in tiny parts somewhere, even in your front lawn or on the sidewalk or wherever it is in whatever country that is.
Jackowski: Now, imagine you're in one of these more fragile communities where the systems aren't built to support that waste. And that, unfortunately, is a large part of the world.
Jackowski: If we hide from these problems, they're only going to get worse. You need to just face it head on, acknowledge it, be transparent, be accountable to it, be open to creative solutions and then go tackle it. I think this is a time for everyone to be really brave.
Audrey Choi: YOU’RE LISTENING TO AT SCALE - A SUSTAINABILITY PODCAST FROM MORGAN STANLEY.
Choi: WE’VE PRODUCED MORE THAN 9-BILLION TONS OF PLASTIC SINCE THE 1950s, AND NEARLY ALL OF IT, ABOUT 80-PERCENT, ENDS UP AS TRASH - IN A LANDFILL, A RIVER OR IN THE OCEAN. WHERE WE EXPECT IT TO SIT FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS.
Choi: AND MOST OF THAT PLASTIC WASTE DISPROPORTIONATELY AFFECTS THE MOST VULNERABLE COMMUNITIES. IT INCREASES HEALTH RISKS, OBSTACLES TO EDUCATION, AND ECONOMIC BURDENS ON LOW INCOME RESIDENTS AND PEOPLE OF COLOR.
Choi: PLASTIC WASTE ISN’T JUST AN ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEM OR AN ECONOMIC DRAIN. IT’S A SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUE.
Choi: I’M AUDREY CHOI, CHIEF SUSTAINABILITY OFFICER AT MORGAN STANLEY AND CEO OF THE INSTITUTE FOR SUSTAINABLE INVESTING. ON THIS SEASON OF AT SCALE, WE’RE EXPLORING PLASTIC WASTE - THE SURPRISING PLACES WE FIND IT, THE INNOVATORS WORKING TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM, AND WHAT IT TAKES TO MAKE REAL CHANGE ACROSS COMMUNITIES, INDUSTRIES, AND AROUND THE GLOBE.
Choi: AND TODAY, WE’RE LOOKING AT THE HUMAN COSTS.
Choi: IF YOU LIVE IN A WEALTHY COUNTRY, CHANCES ARE YOU WHEEL YOUR TRASH AND RECYCLING BINS TO THE CURB WHERE THEY’RE PICKED UP EVERY WEEK. THERE’S AN ORGANIZED SANITATION SYSTEM THAT RELIABLY COLLECTS WASTE AND DISPOSES OF IT PROPERLY.
Choi: BUT THAT’S RARE IN LOW INCOME COUNTRIES, WHERE 90-PERCENT OF ALL WASTE IS DUMPED INTO THE ENVIRONMENT OR BURNED, ACCORDING TO THE WORLD BANK.
Choi: AND THE INCREASING AMOUNT OF PLASTIC WASTE THAT ENDS UP WHERE PEOPLE LIVE IS CREATING A HUMANITARIAN ISSUE.
Victoria Kwakwa: We're all using plastics, but who pays for it in terms of the damage that it causes to people's livelihoods, to people's health, to people's climate vulnerability? The poorer communities pay more.
Choi: VICTORIA KWAKWA IS THE WORLD BANK REGIONAL VICE PRESIDENT FOR EAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC. I CALLED HER TO TRY TO BETTER UNDERSTAND THE SOCIAL JUSTICE IMPLICATIONS OF PLASTIC WASTE.
Kwakwa: If we believe in social justice and if we believe in making sure that everybody is given an equal chance to benefit from plastics and not to be menaced by plastics, then we should take this issue up.
Choi: ACCORDING TO THE UNITED NATIONS, PLASTIC WASTE COSTS 13-BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR IN LOST FISH CATCHES AND DAMAGE TO MARINE ECOSYSTEMS. THAT DIRECTLY IMPACTS COMMUNITIES THAT RELY ON OCEANS TO SURVIVE.
Kwakwa: I've seen instances where fishermen are coming in with their catch. A lot of it is plastic bags instead of fish.
Choi: AND A RECENT REPORT BY THE UNITED NATIONS IS SOUNDING AN ALARM. IT CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION TO CURB PLASTIC WASTE AND TO RESTORE ACCESS TO HUMAN RIGHTS, HEALTH AND WELL-BEING FOR THE WORLD’S MOST VULNERABLE RESIDENTS.
Kwakwa: It's impacting their ability to earn incomes, feed themselves, children drop out of school. Ultimately, health is also impacted and their climate vulnerability is increased. This is a major problem and that's why we give it so much attention working through all the chains, the stages of the plastic value chain.
Choi: THE WORLD BANK IS WORKING TO CREATE REAL SYSTEMIC CHANGE GOING FORWARD.
Choi: AND IT GOES BACK TO THE MISSION OF THE ORGANIZATION - TO REDUCE POVERTY AND TO IMPROVE LIVING STANDARDS BY PROMOTING SUSTAINABLE GROWTH AND INVESTMENT IN PEOPLE.
Choi: AVOIDING PLASTIC IS MORE COMPLICATED IN LOW INCOME COMMUNITIES BECAUSE THERE MAY BE CRITICAL BENEFITS TO USING IT, LIKE BRINGING SAFE DRINKING WATER TO PEOPLE WHO OTHERWISE DON’T HAVE ACCESS TO IT. SO I WAS CURIOUS HOW VICTORIA AND THE WORLD BANK ARE TACKLING THE PROBLEM.
Kwakwa: In countries like Indonesia, we're working with them to really identify the leakage hotspots, which should be the priority areas for action. In Cambodia, we are also working with them, using drone technology to find out the top 10 things that are really causing the problems.And so this provides knowledge for action.
Choi: IN CAMBODIA’S CAPITAL OF PHNOM PENH, PLASTIC WASTE FILLS CANALS AND BEACHES. AND IT ACCOUNTS FOR 20-PERCENT OF ALL WASTE IN THE CITY, THAT’S ACCORDING TO A REPORT BY THE UNITED NATIONS AND THE INSTITUTE FOR GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL STRATEGIES. RAPID URBANIZATION AND POOR WASTE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS ARE MAKING THE PROBLEM WORSE.
Choi: THAT’S WHY VICTORIA SAYS USING TECHNOLOGY LIKE DRONES IS CRUCIAL. IT ALLOWS RESEARCHERS TO QUICKLY IDENTIFY WHERE PLASTIC IS COMING FROM - WHETHER IT’S RESIDENTIAL OR INDUSTRIAL WASTE - AND TO ANALYZE THE KINDS OF PLASTIC THAT ARE ENTERING THE ENVIRONMENT.
Choi: WITH THIS DATA, VICTORIA SAYS LOCAL GOVERNMENTS CAN IMPLEMENT EDUCATION CAMPAIGNS, INCREASE ENFORCEMENT OF ILLEGAL DUMPING, AND LEARN HOW PLASTIC WASTE IS IMPACTING RESIDENT’S DAILY LIVES.
Kwakwa: In one of my visits to Indonesia, I remember walking with my counterparts through a neighborhood that had a lot of plastics just in the river body that was by this particular neighborhood. You know sometimes people at higher levels who need to see what is happening and act on it might not know. So if you use the technology to really find out these hotspots and then action can be put in place to really come in and put what is needed in terms of the investments and the interventions to clean up.
Choi: IN PLACES WHERE PLASTIC WASTE IS COLLECTED, IT’S OFTEN THROWN INTO OPEN PIT LANDFILLS. ACCORDING TO THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH AND THE NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE, ASTHMA, MALARIA, SKIN IRRITATION AND RECURRING FLU ARE JUST SOME OF THE HEALTH EFFECTS OF LIVING NEAR WHERE WASTE IS DUMPED.
Choi: AND THERE ARE OTHER HEALTH CONCERNS. A REPORT BY THE UNITED NATIONS FOUND THAT 40-PERCENT OF THE WORLD’S TRASH IS BURNED. OPEN BURNING OF PLASTIC, WHICH IS MORE COMMON IN LOW INCOME COUNTRIES, SENDS TOXIC POLLUTION INTO THE ENVIRONMENT - INCREASING THE RISKS OF HEART DISEASE AND NEUROLOGICAL DAMAGE.
Kwakwa: And a lot of the plastics that end up in their communities, it's probably not plastic that they used. You know, if they're living near landfills, the plastic that is being generated by you and I somewhere else is being collected and shipped to landfills which are closer to these vulnerable communities.
Choi: ACCORDING TO THE WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM, 90-PERCENT OF THE PLASTIC THAT ENDS UP IN OUR OCEANS COMES FROM JUST 10 RIVERS. EIGHT OF THOSE ARE IN ASIA. AND TWO ARE IN AFRICA.
Choi: THESE RIVERS HAVE SOMETHING IN COMMON - LARGE POPULATIONS OF PEOPLE LIVING NEXT TO THEM AND INADEQUATE WASTE COLLECTION SYSTEMS.
Kwakwa: So the question is what will we all do about it as a people that should be concerned about the welfare of others and particularly in the development communities? So I would say, yes, it is an issue of social justice. And so I think it means that we have to really redouble efforts to find solutions and to make sure that people that live in poorer communities, more vulnerable communities, don't have to suffer because of plastics.
Choi: TO FIND SOLUTIONS, THE WORLD BANK IS CREATING PARTNERSHIPS, BY BRINGING GOVERNMENTS, PRIVATE COMPANIES AND LOCAL RESIDENTS TOGETHER.
Choi: FOR EXAMPLE, IN MALAYSIA, EFFORTS ARE UNDERWAY TO DEVELOP A CIRCULAR ECONOMY FOR PLASTIC. TO DO THAT, THE GOVERNMENT SET A GOAL. IT CALLS FOR ALL PLASTIC PACKAGING TO BE RECYCLABLE, REUSABLE OR COMPOSTABLE BY 2030.
Choi: AND IT’S WORKING WITH THE MALAYSIAN PLASTIC MANUFACTURES ASSOCIATION AND THE COUNTRY’S PLASTIC RECYCLING ASSOCIATION, BUILDING A COMPLEX RECYCLING INDUSTRY TO KEEP PLASTIC IN THE ECONOMY. THE GOAL IS TO DOUBLE THE NATIONAL PLASTIC RECYCLING RATE TO 35-PERCENT BY 2025.
Kwakwa: So if the public sector puts in the right incentives, puts in the right regulatory framework, the right legislation, then it enables the private sector also to come in and perhaps undertake certain investments to change the way that they do things and to act in a way that supports circularity in the plastics value chain.
Choi: VICTORIA SAYS MAJOR INVESTMENT IS NEEDED TO SCALE UP PLASTIC RECYCLING INFRASTRUCTURE CHANGES AND TO CREATE A MARKET FOR RECYCLED PLASTIC.
Kwakwa: A sister organization, IFC, has worked to issue Indorama Ventures to issue a blue bond of about 300 million dollars, which is a bond whose proceeds go specifically to keeping our oceans blue by supporting recycling investments that this company will do in certain countries in East Asia and even in Latin America.
Choi: ANNOUNCED LAST FALL, IT WAS THE FIRST BLUE BOND ISSUED FOR A PLASTIC RESIN MANUFACTURER. THE FUNDING IS AIMED AT RECYCLING 50 BILLION P-E-T BOTTLES A YEAR BY 2025 IN COUNTRIES LIKE INDIA, BRAZIL AND THE PHILIPPINES - PLACES THAT ARE SUFFERING FROM MISMANAGEMENT OF PLASTIC WASTE.
Choi: THERE IS A LOT OF WORK TO DO TO MAKE THE USE AND RECYCLING OF PLASTIC MORE WHOLISTIC THROUGH POLICY AND INVESTMENT SOLUTIONS. SOLUTIONS THAT NOT ONLY STOP THE TIDE OF PLASTIC WASTE BUT ALSO LIFT UP COMMUNITIES. BECAUSE PLASTIC WASTE IMPACTS EVEN THE YOUNGEST RESIDENTS.
Kwakwa: Here I see the children who stay away from school who are diving into dirty water bodies to pick plastic.
Kwakwa: There are conditional cash transfers that can be used to sort of tell households, OK, fine, if instead of having your child skip school and go to the landfill to pick up plastic or diving into dirty water to collect, if you keep your child from doing that and make sure that they are at school, then we will give you so much money.
Choi: ACCORDING TO THE WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM, THERE ARE 15-MILLION WASTE PICKERS GLOBALLY. OVERWHELMINGLY, THEY ARE WOMEN AND CHILDREN - AND IT’S OFTEN IN DANGEROUS SITUATIONS, WHERE THEY’RE EXPOSED TO HARM AND DISEASE.
Choi: VICTORIA SAYS PROGRAMS ARE NEEDED TO BRING PLASTIC WASTE COLLECTION IN FROM THE SHADOWS.
Kwakwa: We're also working with the communities trying to formalize the waste picking function, you know, so bringing vulnerable workers like that as part of the solution.
Choi: I WANTED TO LEARN MORE ABOUT SOME SOLUTIONS THAT ARE WORKING ON THE GROUND. SO MY TEAM REACHED OUT THE PLASTIC BANK. IT’S A SOCIAL ENTERPRISE THAT’S CREATING RECYCLING PROGRAMS IN HIGH POVERTY COUNTRIES, LIKE INDONESIA AND HAITI.
Choi: FOUNDER DAVID KATZ SAYS THEY PUT A VALUE ON PLASTIC WASTE.
David Katz: I use the example that if every piece of packaging or every bottle you ever saw was five U.S. dollars. Do you think that you would see any in the ocean, do you think you’d see any in the waste bin or in the environment, do you think you'd see people throwing them out of their car windows? Not at all. If it was five U.S. dollars, everyone would be clamoring to go get them.
Choi: HERE’S HOW THE PROGRAM WORKS. DAVID SAYS LOCAL RESIDENTS ARE TRAINED IN SAFE PRACTICES TO COLLECT PLASTIC WASTE. WHEN THEY BRING BOTTLES TO A PLASTIC BANK COLLECTION SITE, LIKE THIS ONE IN THE PHILIPPINES, THEY CAN TRADE THEM IN FOR TANGIBLE ITEMS THEY DESPERATELY NEED.
Katz: We’re most proud that we offer everything from school tuition and medical insurance and Wi-Fi and cell phone minutes, cooking fuel, everything the true poor need and struggle to afford every day now available using the waste beneath their feet.
Choi: DAVID TOLD US ABOUT ONE OF THEIR FIRST PLASTIC WASTE COLLECTORS, A HAITIAN WOMAN NAMED LISSE.
Katz: She survived the 2010 earthquake. Left as a widow and really quite destitute. She takes her children to school in the morning, and then once they're in school, she goes out with some other moms and they can go door to door, business to business or through the streets and collect material. She comes back to one of our centers and her account is brought up. The material itself is viewed for quality and impurity. It's weighed. And then a value is established and then deposited into her account.
Choi: THE MONEY DEPOSITED INTO LEASE’S ACCOUNT USES BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY. THAT KEEPS HER ASSETS SAFE AND GIVES HER A SENSE OF FINANCIAL FREEDOM AND AN ENTRY INTO AN ORGANIZED SYSTEM OF SAVINGS.
Choi: ONCE THE PLASTIC IS DROPPED OFF AT THE CENTER, IT STARTS TO BE PROCESSED.
Katz: It's amalgamated there and more value is added at the collection center where the colors and types of material are separated and caps and labels and rings are removed, adding value. When there’s a mass of material at that collection location, it’s then shipped to a locally authorized processor recycler, and they add more value by either baling the material or by flaking it, by cleaning it and getting it ready as a raw material as an export. When we ship that to our customers, bottlers, who then turn that back into a packaging that allows the consumer to engage with it.
Katz: The plastic we collect, we sell to companies like SC Johnson, Hugo Boss, Coca-Cola, Henkle and so many others, hundreds and hundreds of customers who buy that material and put it back in their packaging.
Choi: THE PLASTIC BANK HAS 550 LOCATIONS IN COUNTRIES INCLUDING THE PHILIPPINES, INDONESIA AND EGYPT. DAVID SAYS TRANSPARENCY IS THE BACKBONE OF WHAT THE PLASTIC BANK DOES.
Katz: We create a transparent, authentic, traceable supply chain for our customers so that customers can look and go, where did the material come from? Who collected it? We paid for the material. Who benefited? Exactly where did it come from?
Choi: AND AT THE SAME TIME, LOCAL RESIDENTS GAIN FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE.
Katz: Creating a digital wallet and the ability to authentically transact the value, the material so it lands in the hands of our collector communities is what we stand for, because it needs to be. If we're going to create change in the world and bring more value to the material so people view it differently.
Choi: VICTORIA KWAKWA AT THE WORLD BANK TALKED ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF PARTNERSHIPS IN SCALING UP SOLUTIONS TO PLASTIC WASTE. AND ULTIMATELY HAVING GREATER IMPACTS ON PEOPLE LIVING IN POVERTY.
Choi: AND THAT GOT ME THINKING ABOUT A COMPANY THAT HAS A LONG RECORD OF SUSTAINABILITY. HP.
Ellen Jackowski: You can choose to just have an environmental lens, but whatever choices you're making, those have an impact on the people in the communities where you're making those choices. So we very intentionally kind of put those two pillars together because we recognize how interconnected they are.
Choi: ELLEN JACKOWSKI IS THE CHIEF SUSTAINABILITY AND SOCIAL IMPACT OFFICER AT HP. IT’S A 50-BILLION DOLLAR COMPANY MOST KNOWN FOR MAKING PERSONAL COMPUTERS AND PRINTERS. SINCE 2017, THEY’VE BEEN USING RECYCLED PLASTIC IN THEIR INK CARTRIDGES - PLASTIC THAT WAS SOURCED IN NORTH AMERICA. BUT AS HP FOCUSED ON SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUES, ELLEN SAYS IT BECAME CLEAR THEY HAD TO REEXAMINE THE SOURCE OF THEIR PLASTIC.
Jackowski: And when we started thinking about that question of where could we source this from to have more environmental and social impact, that led us to our program in Haiti. And that's really where it started.
Jackowski: And that has implications for job creation, sustainable, livable wages that we can implement as part of our process down there, as well as then it prevents those plastic bottles from flowing into the ocean.
Choi: AT FIRST, ELLEN SAYS HP BOUGHT SHREDDED PLASTIC IN HAITI AND SHIPPED IT TO SOUTH CAROLINA WHERE IT WAS CLEANED. AND THEN SHIPPED IT AGAIN, THIS TIME TO MONTREAL, WHERE IT WAS PROCESSED.
Choi: IT WAS A SHORT TERM SOLUTION.
Jackowski: Long term was this two million dollar investment it meant more jobs down in Haiti, meant we could raise the wage that we were paying. And, you know, again, the cost savings for us not having to transport it, let alone the carbon savings as well for us to take to stop that extra piece of our supply chain.
Jackowski: That was the mindset that we went into this with, which was what is that long term financial model and where are we going to have to make some key investments to make sure that it calculates out and so far so good. That plan is working.
Choi: AS ELLEN SAYS, HP MADE AN INVESTMENT TO BRING PART OF THE SUPPLY CHAIN TO HAITI.
Jackowski: HP knows supply chain, right? We've got a 50 billion dollar supply chain. It's really strong, but we don't know about collecting plastic in Haiti or the local community impacts or the sensitivities there. So we needed to find the right experts to build the best solution.
Choi: SO THEY LOOKED TO TWO ORGANIZATIONS - THREAD INTERNATIONAL AND DO WORK.ORG. AND ELLEN SAYS EXPANDING HP’S ROLE IN THE PLASTICS ECONOMY AND FOCUSING ON SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUES MADE SENSE.
Jackowski: Well, HP uses a lot of plastic, right? What's a printer? A printer is awesome technology wrapped in a box of plastic. PC has a lot of plastic in it, too. We have 3D printing. What runs through 3D printers? Plastic. We have a clear responsibility here.
Choi: ELLEN SAYS THE COMPANY’S SUSTAINABILITY AND SOCIAL IMPACT GOALS BEGAN WITH ELIMINATING PLASTIC WHEREVER AND WHENEVER POSSIBLE.
Jackowski: We set a goal to eliminate seventy five percent of our single use plastic in our packaging by 2025. And we're really serious about that. If we can't eliminate it, then the next question is, can we use an alternate material? And so you'll see in a lot of our packaging we're moving away from plastic and how we're getting to that elimination goal to other materials like molded fiber.
Choi: HP’S THIRD GUIDING GOAL IS: IF YOU HAVE TO USE PLASTIC, DON’T USE VIRGIN. INSTEAD, LOOK FOR RECYCLED MATERIAL.
Jackowski: Can we continue to innovate new parts of our supply chain like we have in Haiti, where the sourcing choice helps accelerate not just the environmental solutions, but also the social impact that we can have.
Choi: AND LAST, IT’S CLOSING THE LOOP ON THEIR PRODUCTS. CUSTOMERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO SEND OLD PRINTER CARTRIDGES BACK TO HP TO BE RECYCLED.
Choi: AND ELLEN SAYS THAT FOCUSING ON SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUES AS PART OF THE BUSINESS HAS PAID OFF.
Jackowski: For the second year in a row, it's driven over a billion dollars in new sales for the company. So we know that our shift to more sustainable products and services and solutions, that's something our customers want. The market is changing. Our customers are changing. So it's a revenue opportunity. So we shouldn't be thinking about it just as a cost adder. And in many cases, there are cost savings.
Jackowski: But at the end of the day, we also recognize that our actions around sustainable impact, those are aligned with where our customers are going. It's a revenue opportunity as well.
Missing in this transcript (time 20:25 – 21:48) is about small decisions that have a big impact (Audrey) and one of their printers with zero plastic in the packaging (Jackowski). If it remains in the podcast, please have add the discussion here.
Choi: THERE WAS A THEME THAT ELLEN, AND DAVID KATZ OF THE PLASTIC BANK AND VICTORIA KWAKWA OF THE WORLD BANK ALL RETURNED TO. THE IMPACT PLASTIC WASTE HAS ON CHILDREN IN LOW INCOME COMMUNITIES - ON THEIR EDUCATION, THEIR HEALTH, AND THEIR FUTURE.
Jackowski: As we've gotten to know the collector community better, it was clear that many of their children weren't in school. And that's a problem, right, that's not something that we would all hope for. So how could we be a part of the solution there?
Choi: SO HP LOOKED AGAIN TO ITS PARTNER, DO WORK. ORG. IT’S A NON-PROFIT THAT TRAINS HAITIANS IN JOB SKILLS, PROVIDING HEALTHCARE AND EDUCATION TO FAMILIES.
Jackowski: They've set up several classrooms specific to the children of the collectors in that community. I was able to fly down there and bring our top education PCs to put them in those classrooms. So this was the first opportunity that most of those kids have ever had to put their fingers on a keyboard. And then we also brought down HP printers and put those in those classrooms. And that, for me was particularly important because inside those printers is the ink cartridges that their parents helped to build. So, you know, the parents pick up the bottles, they're shredded in Haiti. We buy that plastic shred. We mix it with recycled ink cartridge plastic, make a new cartridge and it goes back down into the printers in their children's school system. So pretty cool to have that full circle.
Audrey Choi: That's really incredible to be, you know, guaranteed income to their parents and actually providing that education at the same time.
Jackowski: Right. And it's important that it's a livable wage. Right. So we paid a lot of attention to the price that the plastic collectors are being paid. And we've set a level that cannot drop below a certain price to ensure a livable wage, to ensure that we're creating a path of financial independence and success for the parents.
Choi: ELLEN SAYS THE FACILITY IN HAITI HAS CREATED 11-HUNDRED NEW JOBS. HP IS ALSO PARTNERING WITH A RECYCLER IN INDONESIA. AND THAT COOPERATION BETWEEN COMPANIES HAS TO HAPPEN TO CREATE REAL SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE.
Jackowski: And I think that's the vision, right? We want to create something that's scalable, that is consistent and is producing the highest quality plastic. That wash line, again, is going to help Haiti and our recycler down there compete on the global plastics market unlike they've been able to previously.
Jackowski: We've also joined a group called Next Wave Plastics. It's a group of other large companies that use a lot of plastic, like HP. Dell, one of our competitors, is part of it, IKEA, Herman Miller, truck bicycles. These are a series of companies who've all committed to helping solve the ocean plastic pollution problem. So by us becoming a part of Next Wave, we've been able to share how we've set up our supply chain in Haiti, what's worked really well. And we've also shared lessons where we've made mistakes and and hope that other companies can learn from that and avoid, you know, what we had to go through to learn. So that's another way where we're hoping to extend the benefit of what's happened in Haiti.
Jackowski: Again, when HP joined Next Wave Plastic, Dell was a founding member. What? HP and Dell are in the same room? Sharing secrets on their supply chain? Yeah, we are. HP can't solve the ocean plastic problem and Dell can't solve it like it's so big, there's no way. So this is the best time to work closely with your competitors to solve these problems.
Choi: AND ELLEN BELIEVES WE’RE AT A GLOBAL TURNING POINT.
Jackowski: This is very difficult and the urgency is real. So, yes, this is a turning point. And if you haven't woken up to how your actions need to change, like, this is the perfect moment to do it. I think the question now becomes, what am I supposed to be doing? What is the right thing? If you're in procurement,you make the best choice to find the best source where it can have the most environmental and social impact. If you're in marketing, are you doing a great job of communicating the benefits from an environmental and social point of view, of the decisions that we've made about our products? If you're in human resources, are you ensuring that we are recruiting the people who have the energy and motivation and the passion to lean into these types of solutions? So I think it's really this culture change of the intention now that is growing and there. But how do we connect that intention and desire to action?
Choi: So for a large corporation who hasn't yet really thought so much about the full lifecycle of plastic, can you just kind of paint the picture for a CEO of the impact of plastic pollution on fragile communities?
Jackowski: Yeah, well, I think whoever you are, wherever you live, you can see the benefits of plastic as well as the negatives of it. For anyone who's been to a beach, wherever that beach is, if you just look down, you will see tiny little shreds of plastic things that have been beaten up in the ocean and ended up on shore. Now, put yourself in the shoes of someone in a country that has even less recycling infrastructure or almost none. The volume of the way that we are consuming as humans has to change what we consume and how we consume. And these most fragile communities, they need solutions. They need a way out. And we all have a responsibility to provide that. If we don't, the future is bleak and that's not a future I think anyone wants.
Audrey Choi: THE URGENCY TO ADDRESS THE EFFECTS OF PLASTIC WASTE ON VULNERABLE COMMUNITIES AND THE ENVIRONMENT BECAME EVEN GREATER WITH THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC.
Choi: ALMOST OVERNIGHT, THE DEMAND FOR SINGLE USE PLASTIC EXPLODED - FROM MASKS AND GLOVES TO SANITIZER BOTTLES AND TAKE-OUT CONTAINERS. IT MADE SOME FEEL SAFER. BUT IT ALSO LED TO A SPIKE IN THE CRUSHING AMOUNT OF PLASTIC WASTE LITTERING THE ENVIRONMENT.
Choi: AND ALONG WITH THE MANY DEVASTATING EFFECTS OF THE PANDEMIC, ON HEALTH AND ECONOMIC LIVELIHOODS, THIS INCREASED BURDEN OF PLASTIC WASTE ALSO DISPROPORTIONATELY LANDS ON OUR MOST VULNERABLE POPULATIONS.
Choi: THE CHALLENGES WE FACE ARE GROWING. BUT CREATIVE, SYSTEMS-LEVEL THINKING CAN REVERSE THE COURSE. AND THAT REQUIRES COLLABORATION AND INNOVATION THROUGHOUT THE PLASTICS VALUE CHAIN.
Choi: THIS MEANS EACH OF US MAKING THOUGHTFUL, DELIBERATE CHOICES. IT MEANS GOVERNMENTS, BUSINESSES, CORPORATIONS AND FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS WORKING TOGETHER TO PIONEER AND SUPPORT INNOVATIONS ACROSS INDUSTRIES AND SECTORS.
Choi: THERE ARE NO EASY ANSWERS, BUT I AM HOPEFUL THAT WE ARE ON THE RIGHT PATH.
Choi: THROUGHOUT THIS SEASON, WE’VE SEEN SOME PROMISING BEGINNINGS. WE’VE LEARNED ABOUT COALITIONS CLEANING OUR OCEANS OF GHOST GEAR, DESIGNERS REUSING TEXTILES, INNOVATORS CREATING EDIBLE FOOD PACKAGING, AND SCIENTISTS DEVELOPING NEW FORMULAS THAT JUST MIGHT REDEFINE THE LIFE CYCLE OF PLASTIC.
Choi: WE NEED TO FIND MEANINGFUL SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS. ONES THAT ARE ECONOMICALLY VIABLE AND SCALABLE. BECAUSE THAT’S HOW WE’LL SOLVE THE PROBLEM OF PLASTIC WASTE.
Choi: I’M AUDREY CHOI, CHIEF SUSTAINABILITY OFFICER AT MORGAN STANLEY AND CEO OF THE INSTITUTE FOR SUSTAINABLE INVESTING. YOU CAN FIND OUT MORE ABOUT WHAT WE’RE DOING TO TACKLE PLASTIC WASTE AT
MORGAN STANLEY.COM /PLASTIC WASTE RESOLUTION.
THANKS FOR LISTENING.