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US company asks residents from developing countries to collect plastic waste in return for healthcare

Lizzie Roberts
An officer shows a container full with plastic waste at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta, Indonesia. - via REUTERS

Global cleaning product manufacturer, SC Johnson, has announced a controversial plastic waste plan where residents of developing countries can litter pick plastic in return for healthcare or education.   

The company said on Tuesday the collected plastic would then be recycled into a “Social Plastic” bottle, which will be used for its Windex products from February 2020.   

Environmental groups have criticised the scheme as passing the corporation’s responsibility onto others.  

Over 500 plastic collection centres will be rolled out in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Brazil.  

Louise Edge, head of Greenpeace UK’s ocean plastics campaign, said: “The UK ships around two thirds of its plastic waste abroad, and often it ends up in countries such as Indonesia.  

“Rather than expecting other countries to clear up our plastic waste, and trying in vain to tackle the plastic pollution crisis by recycling, corporates like SC Johnson must shift their packaging model to focus on reuse and refill.”  

A Daily Telegraph investigation previously revealed as much as 18,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste was sent to Indonesia from the UK in the first half of 2019.  

SC Johnson’s initiative, in partnership with Plastic Bank, claims to “invite residents to earn a stable income by joining the effort”.  

“Residents can collect and exchange plastic for digital tokens,” the company said. “Using blockchain technology they can use the tokens in exchange for access to necessities, healthcare coverage, school tuition, local currency and more – reducing the risk of loss or theft.”  

The company already has nine collection centres in Indonesia.  

A spokesman for the company said: “SC Johnson is taking action to address the ocean plastic crisis, and we recognize this is a tough issue with no one solution.

“This is something we have been working on for a decade and we are tackling it through our many actions as a company.”

The company added their Plastic Bank partnership will collect 30,000 metric tons of plastic over the three years.