The tragedy of the commons is a well known economics problem, which has now morphed into a social impact metaphor. Hence, it’s connection to the video title. How can you have a shared asset that every user treats exactly the same? The ocean is our shared asset and plastic, in the popular press at least, is now the enemy. While collection mechanisms and education need to improve globally, Re>Pal is pleased to be just one solution to the issue at hand. We are proud to be included in this video by the Global Environment Facility or “GEF” where we share the stage with other companies such as Unilever, Circulate Capital, UN Environment and GRID – Arendal.
In the 1900’s when the tragedy of the commons theory was first propounded it was applied to a theoretical problem of overgrazing on a shared commons, the short-term interest of every farmer outweighing the long-term interest of the collective; even if every farmer knew that the farmland would be degraded and depleted by their own self-interest they did it anyway. Now when looking at the ‘plastic waste issue’ we view this from a lens that says we cannot make the world’s ocean our own private dumping ground – we have a duty to each other to preserve the ocean for animal and human wellbeing. We are all aware that there are massive issues with plastic pollution in these precious oceans and there is an increasing focus on plastic waste not just as a local issue but as a shared global problem in our interconnected oceans.
As just one solution to the waste issue, the Re>Pal factory is featured in this video story by the Global Environment Facility. The Global Environment Facility in cooperation with TVE, Television for the Environment, produced this video. It shows interventions of the international community on the challenge of plastics pollution in the oceans to get closer to a Circular Economy system that reduces, reuses, and recycles. The Global Environment Facility was established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to help tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems. Since then, the GEF has provided over $17.9 billion in grants and mobilized an additional $93.2 billion in co-financing for more than 4,500 projects in 170 countries. Today, the GEF is an international partnership of 183 countries, international institutions, civil society organizations and the private sector that addresses global environmental issues. Circulate Capital and Second Muse who are working with the GEF, are looking at incubating various solutions in the circular economy, and were keen to highlight Re>Pal as a solution available to clean, process, reuse and ‘upcycle’ plastic into useful ‘circular’ assets. It’s worth noting though that often creating the mousetrap is often not the problem, it’s finding the mice!. The major challenge in any country is in education. For countries that have had no recycling systems, the issue is how to incentivise and educate a population from Government down, to separate waste at source and to provide the collection and distribution/ disposal mechanisms. It is in these areas that companies such as SystemIQ and Plastic Bank are making a difference in Indonesia and whose work we encourage. As mentioned in prior newsletters, with the increasing capacity of our wash plant we are able to process more dirty plastics and importantly for Indonesia we process the ‘low value’ waste plastic including plastic bags. I believe it is this ability that sets us apart from other recyclers as we can mix plastics of 3 different types and by being a solution for plastic bags in Indonesia I hope this encourages more supply to come towards us so avoiding a tragedy in the oceans.