With the decline in global oil prices, the demand for recycled plastic has also come down. Local trash pickers in many parts of the world now find it less lucrative to collect empty bottles. In the absence of a municipal recycling system, Haiti is experiencing this challenge with plastic bottles, bags and other litter, which slowly float toward the ocean.
Some of the global companies are now engaging directly to stimulate new demand for recycling in Haiti. HP, which uses recycled plastic for new printer cartridges, has announced that it will start purchasing some of that plastic from Haiti. Timberland will use recycled polyester, made from some of the same plastic, to make shoes and bags.
In a new Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action, HP and Timberland have partnered with Thread, a certified B Corp that works in Haiti and other low-income countries to transform waste into useful products. The partnership also includes a nonprofit and a local plastic recycler association.
Nathan Hurst, chief sustainability and social impact officer for HP, said that to support the local market in Haiti, the company did not want to just extend financial donations. It decided to help the local companies in the region scale up and create a market for the recyclable materials.
HP’s daily plastic use to make fresh cartridges requires recycled plastic from over one million plastic bottles, apart from virgin materials. The demand is more than what Haiti’s new supply can cover.
In 2017, Timberland will launch a special collection of products, including duffel bags and boots, made in part with Thread’s recycled plastic fabric.
The companies are also trying to help solve some of the many problems recycling faces. At the Truitier Landfill, where the project is focused, recyclers can make around $3.57 a day, more than a dollar more than the average worker in Haiti. But sorting through the trash is dangerous – the landfill is also a dump for medical waste – and children do much of the work.
HP and Timberland will help fund health and safety training for all of the workers, job training, and scholarships for about 200 children, ages 8-12, who work at the landfill.
If the pilot works, the partners hope to replicate the same model in other countries.
Source and Image: Fast coexist