Peru’s Plastic Banks Turn Waste Into Currency

Peru is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, from tropical rainforests to sandy beaches. Yet it is also home to one of the world's largest waste problems. Canadian entrepreneur David Katz plans to turn this plastic litter into usable currency.

Piles of plastic, from bottles to bags and packaging, is a growing problem seen on Peru’s streets and also its natural landscape. Plastic Bank is set to change all that. The idea behind Plastic Banks is to collect plastic waste and exchange it for something useful, with innovative suggestions currently ranging from services to money to 3D printed items, depending on what people most need. The combination of recycled plastic and 3D printing has been termed ‘Social Plastic™’, with the emphasis being on how recycling waste can help poorer communities.

Plastic Bank

Peru currently has no official service to clear its plastic-clogged oceans, waterways and cities, and so a public initiative is what’s needed to start the clean-up campaign. By reconsidering plastic not as litter but as currency, people can engage in a social project which cleans up Peru’s streets while also giving them direct personal gain.

Plastic Bank

“We are a throwaway society and one of the worst offending materials is plastic” says Katz. “Turning plastic waste into a currency that can be exchanged to help lift people out of poverty and transition them into a self-sustaining life of entrepreneurship seemed like an obvious solution.”

The plastic itself is recycled and reused. Plastic Bank’s goal is to increase the use of Social Plastic™ in everyday use, creating Plastic Bank communities all over the world. The first plastic bank is due to open in Lima in late 2014.