Plastics For Change and retailer The Body Shop have formed a partnership to launch a project focusing on "Fair Trade Plastics" to get more plastic waste into the recycling stream.
Plastics For Change is the organization behind a new mobile platform which offers urban waste pickers fair market prices for the materials they reclaim from waste sites. The group and The Body Shop, a manufacturer and retailer of beauty products, are both certified under the World Fair Trade Organization.
It is hoped that guaranteed Fair Trade pricing will lead to the collection of more plastic waste before it ends up in rivers and, ultimately, in the ocean.
"Plastic recycling is a major source of income for the 1 percent of the world's most marginalized urban population and we are incredibly excited to partner with The Body Shop and other partners to help these groups get the financial and social benefits they deserve. This is the world's first ever programme of verified Fair Trade plastic collection for use in recycling," Plastics for Change CEO Andrew Almack said in a news release.
India alone has approximately 1.5 million waste pickers who collect and sort more than 6,000 metric tons of plastic every day. The majority are Dalits, which are the lowest rung on society and have very limited rights. This means they must work within an unpredictable payment system for the plastic they collect.
The Body Shop has started using this Fair Trade plastic in a variety of packaging items, including 250-milliliter haircare bottles, including its best-selling Ginger Shampoo.
The bottles contain 100 percent recycled plastic, excluding caps, which incorporates 15 percent Fair Trade plastic. This percentage is expected to increase as the volume of collected plastic increases.
In the first year, The Body Shop has used 250 tonnes of fair trade plastic in production of 3 million bottles.
Using the new system it is hoped that pickers will receive a predictable income, leading to better living and working conditions.
Lee Mann, global community trade manager for The Body Shop, said: "As a company, we've always had the conviction to stand up for our principles when it comes to helping empower people, especially women, while protecting our planet. Our new partnership with Plastics For Change and our other partners will not only support waste pickers but also champion plastic as a valuable renewable resource when used responsibly."