Delivering an innovative solution to the plastic waste crisis
Led by Nanette Medved-Po, PCX moves to tackle the plastic crisis and make a global impact.
The United Nations Environment Programme reports that about 400 million tons of plastic waste are produced each year, much of which is visibly unregulated, unmanaged and destructive to the world’s land, air and seas. And the Philippines, which has little infrastructure to manage waste and a prevalent ‘sachet economy’, is the third worst offender for ocean plastic pollution.
Featured on Forbes Asia’s Heroes of Philanthropy list in 2017, Nanette Medved-Po is the Founder of Generation Hope, which donates all profits from the sale of Hope in a Bottle bottled water to build school classrooms in the the Philippines.
Medved-Po initially struggled with the idea that she was helping with education but still hurting the environment, so she challenged her team to take responsibility for their own plastic footprint. “We thought that if we could figure out how to be ‘net zero plastic waste’ and remove or return to the circular economy as much plastic as we used in our own business, there was hope for everyone else,” she explains.
A Sustainable Alternative
In 2019, from one of the epicenters of the worldwide plastic crisis, Plastic Credit Exchange (PCX) emerged to be the world’s first non-profit, fully integrated and blockchain-protected plastic offset program. PCX offers brands a way to achieve their sustainability goals by showing them that there is an effective, achievable way to clean up their plastic waste.
“We assist brands, from helping them determine their footprint, to understanding how to reduce their plastic use in a viable way, and then cleaning up anything that is left with credits,” says Medved-Po.
PCX has gone on to help companies such as PepsiCo, Nestlé and Colgate-Palmolive clean up more than 32,000 tons of plastic waste, and invested over US$2.7 million to support new plastic waste collection capacity and other circular economy initiatives.
In many countries, credits can enable local recycling efforts by funding microentrepreneurs to organize plastic collection in their own communities and connecting supply to vetted processors. But if recycling infrastructure is not available, or the collected waste can’t be recycled, credits may also be used to work with energy recovery partners.
All credits sold have received PCX’s well-established and publicly available Plastic Pollution Reduction Standard (PPRS) accreditation, which was the first of its kind when it was launched in March 2020.
Making a Global Impact
Although PCX quickly became one of the largest providers of plastic waste reduction projects in the Philippines, Medved-Po felt that, given the speed at which plastic enters our environment, it was essential to find a way to scale their impact globally.
In 2022, this led to the creation of PCX Markets, a commercial operation based in Singapore to drive impact beyond the Philippines. PCX Markets has now launched a technology-enabled plastic credit sales marketplace platform. This global platform empowers purchasers to select credits from a wide range of projects, including community-based collection programs in Thailand, recycling operations in India, and more, all accredited through PCX or Verra standards.
Companies are able to sort projects across a range of options, such as the type of plastic, country of impact, and aggregation and processing type. After purchasing, they are provided with a dashboard that tracks the actual impact of their purchases.
“Our new platform allows us to finally bend the curve on the plastic waste crisis in the right direction,” said business and technology industry veteran Sebastian DiGrande, CEO of PCX Markets.
“We are providing individuals, institutions and businesses with an easy-to-use experience delivering unrivaled access, transparency, verification and analytics, as well as an economic model that accelerates critical funding for expansion of existing projects, investment in new infrastructure globally and support of research into plastic alternatives.”
Driving Systemic Change
Until this year, most of PCX’s partnerships have been voluntary and driven by increasingly conscious consumers and investors. But more governments are now taking measures to mandate the importance of planet over profit.
In March 2022, the United Nations passed a resolution to end plastic pollution, a step towards creating a legally binding treaty by 2024. And most recently, the Philippines joined the more than 30 countries who have passed legislation requiring companies to be responsible for the plastic they produce.
PCX also helps governments and organizations understand what is needed for systemic change, and was involved in crafting the Philippines’ Extended Producer Responsibility legislation. In Singapore, the Economic Development Board (EDB) invited PCX Markets to establish a presence, given the country’s desire to be a leader in the sustainability space. The government has taken a proactive approach to environmental credits, as evidenced by Climate Impact X.
“Situated at the heart of a growing Southeast Asia, Singapore is well-placed to provide services to support the region’s sustainability efforts,” says Dino Tan, Senior Vice President and Head of Southeast Asia at the Singapore EDB. “We look forward to engaging with more partners like PCX to further strengthen the ecosystem of companies offering innovative solutions in this field.”
Since 2017, estimates suggest that more than 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced, with less than 10% having been recycled. The numbers may be daunting, but PCX looks at them as a source of motivation.
“Cleaning up the world’s plastic is a complex, layered problem, but I do believe each big step forward will inspire another,” says Medved-Po. “At first, we didn’t know what to do with it or where to bring it. Now we do. And the nice thing about plastic is that you can see it, weigh it, track it and know when there is less of it. I truly believe that we can be the generation that solves this problem.”
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