This year’s World Environment Day theme is ‘beat plastic pollution,’ and Andrew Almack, 28, CEO of Plastics for Change, has devoted his entire career to recycling plastic waste.
Almack, Under 30 Asia 2018 alum based in Bangalore, India, has done shore line clean up projects around the world and has cofounded three other award winning social enterprises in waste management.
Almack specializes in providing various brands a profitable transition towards ethically sourced recycled plastic in their products. The company applies mobile technology to create ethical recycling supply chains that create a reliable circular economy and lead to sustainable livelihoods for the Earth’s poorest regions.
The company essentially ensures a transparent process for stakeholders and a fair pay for trash pickers who collect discarded plastics—all of which boosts the informal recycling industry.
“Developing regions simply don’t have the tax revenue for supporting waste management—these communities struggle to provide access to water,” Almack told The Globe and Mail. “We need to focus on creating markets for the waste and ultimately creating dignified employment to reduce plastic pollution.”
According to environmental experts, plastic waste not only contributes to 8 million tons of plastics that leak into the ocean annually but also 95% of plastic packaging material, valued at $80–120 billion, is lost to the economy, which leads to $40 billion annual loss for the US economy. While reversing the economic loss of various brands, Plastics for Change also functions to work toward the U.N’s Sustainable Development Goals.
UN Environment experts have also made a major call to action for the world to take on mass plastic waste and its financial and environmental consequences. For this year’s World Environment Day festivities, which the UN sponsors, the host country India announced that it aims to end single-use plastic in the country by 2022.
“From remote islands to the Arctic, nowhere is untouched,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “If the present continue trends, by 2050 our oceans will have more plastic than fish. On World Environment Day, the message is simple: reject single-use plastic. Refuse what you can’t re-use.”