Reversing the rising tide of ocean plastic

Each year, eight million tons of plastic ends up in the ocean. Without a shift in consumer and commercial behavior, by 2050 there could be more plastic matter in the ocean, by weight, than fish. Earlier this week, we reported that recycling plastic represents as much as $120 billion in annual revenues and spotlighted some tech companies trying to seize that opportunity.

Now come strategies for investing in the reduction of ocean plastics specifically. Sea of Opportunity: Supply Chain Investment Opportunities to Address Marine Plastic Pollution, from investment firm Encourage Capital, identifies seven impact investment strategies to curb the trajectory of plastic pollution in the ocean, including better materials; collection, tracking and sorting innovations; and waste-to-energy solutions. “There is no single solution to this problem,” the authors write.

One idea has the potential to improve livelihoods as well. In many countries informal “waste pickers” collect a significant amount of total waste. Conditions can be unsanitary and unsafe, but in some locales waste pickers have organized into cooperatives or unions to expand economic opportunity and improve working conditions. Small loans to buy carts for collection, build small-scale sorting facilities, and educate residents, the report suggests, represent investment opportunities ranging from $500,000 to $15 million per deal.

Photo credit: Paul Kennedy, Getty

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