A radical plan to end plastic waste | Andrew Forrest

A radical plan to end plastic waste | Andrew Forrest


Chris Anderson: So, you’ve been
obsessed with this problem for the last few years. What is the problem, in your own words? Andrew Forrest: Plastic. Simple as that. Our inability to use it for the tremendous
energetic commodity that it is, and just throw it away. CA: And so we see waste everywhere. At its extreme, it looks a bit like this. I mean, where was this picture taken? AF: That’s in the Philippines, and you know, there’s a lot of rivers,
ladies and gentlemen, which look exactly like that. And that’s the Philippines. So it’s all over Southeast Asia. CA: So plastic is thrown into the rivers, and from there, of course,
it ends up in the ocean. I mean, we obviously
see it on the beaches, but that’s not even your main concern. It’s what’s actually happening to it
in the oceans. Talk about that. AF: OK, so look. Thank you, Chris. About four years ago, I thought I’d do something
really barking crazy, and I committed to do a PhD
in marine ecology. And the scary part about that was, sure, I learned a lot about marine life, but it taught me more about marine death and the extreme mass
ecological fatality of fish, of marine life, marine mammals, very close biology to us, which are dying in the millions
if not trillions that we can’t count at the hands of plastic. CA: But people think of plastic
as ugly but stable. Right? You throw something in the ocean,
“Hey, it’ll just sit there forever. Can’t do any damage, right?” AF: See, Chris, it’s an incredible
substance designed for the economy. It is the worst substance possible
for the environment. The worst thing about plastics,
as soon as it hits the environment, is that it fragments. It never stops being plastic. It breaks down smaller
and smaller and smaller, and the breaking science on this, Chris, which we’ve known in marine ecology
for a few years now, but it’s going to hit humans. We are aware now that nanoplastic, the very, very small particles of plastic,
carrying their negative charge, can go straight through
the pores of your skin. That’s not the bad news. The bad news is that it goes
straight through the blood-brain barrier, that protective coating which is there
to protect your brain. Your brain’s a little amorphous, wet mass
full of little electrical charges. You put a negative particle into that, particularly a negative particle
which can carry pathogens — so you have a negative charge,
it attracts positive-charge elements, like pathogens, toxins, mercury, lead. That’s the breaking science
we’re going to see in the next 12 months. CA: So already I think you told me
that there’s like 600 plastic bags or so for every fish that size
in the ocean, something like that. And they’re breaking down, and there’s going to be ever more of them, and we haven’t even seen the start
of the consequences of that. AF: No, we really haven’t. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation,
they’re a bunch of good scientists, we’ve been working with them for a while. I’ve completely verified their work. They say there will be
one ton of plastic, Chris, for every three tons
of fish by, not 2050 — and I really get impatient with people
who talk about 2050 — by 2025. That’s around the corner. That’s just the here and now. You don’t need one ton of plastic
to completely wipe out marine life. Less than that is going
to do a fine job at it. So we have to end it straightaway.
We’ve got no time. CA: OK, so you have an idea for ending it,
and you’re coming at this not as a typical environmental
campaigner, I would say, but as a businessman,
as an entrepreneur, who has lived — you’ve spent your whole life thinking
about global economic systems and how they work. And if I understand it right, your idea depends on heroes
who look something like this. What’s her profession? AF: She, Chris, is a ragpicker, and there were 15, 20 million
ragpickers like her, until China stopped taking
everyone’s waste. And the price of plastic,
minuscule that it was, collapsed. That led to people like her, which, now — she is a child
who is a schoolchild. She should be at school. That’s probably very akin to slavery. My daughter Grace and I have met
hundreds of people like her. CA: And there are many adults as well,
literally millions around the world, and in some industries, they actually account
for the fact that, for example, we don’t see a lot
of metal waste in the world. AF: That’s exactly right. That little girl is, in fact,
the hero of the environment. She’s in competition with
a great big petrochemical plant which is just down the road, the three-and-a-half-billion-dollar
petrochemical plant. That’s the problem. We’ve got more oil and gas
in plastic and landfill than we have in the entire oil and gas
resources of the United States. So she is the hero. And that’s what that landfill looks like,
ladies and gentlemen, and it’s solid oil and gas. CA: So there’s huge value
potentially locked up in there that the world’s ragpickers would,
if they could, make a living from. But why can’t they? AF: Because we have ingrained in us a price of plastic from fossil fuels, which sits just under what it takes to economically and profitably
recycle plastic from plastic. See, all plastic is
is building blocks from oil and gas. Plastic’s 100 percent polymer,
which is 100 percent oil and gas. And you know we’ve got
enough plastic in the world for all our needs. And when we recycle plastic, if we can’t recycle it cheaper
than fossil fuel plastic, then, of course, the world
just sticks to fossil fuel plastic. CA: So that’s the fundamental problem, the price of recycled plastic
is usually more than the price of just buying
it made fresh from more oil. That’s the fundamental problem. AF: A slight tweak
of the rules here, Chris. I’m a commodity person. I understand that we used to have
scrap metal and rubbish iron and bits of copper lying
all round the villages, particularly in the developing world. And people worked out it’s got a value. It’s actually an article of value, not of waste. Now the villages and the cities
and the streets are clean, you don’t trip over scrap copper
or scrap iron now, because it’s an article of value,
it gets recycled. CA: So what’s your idea, then,
to try to change that in plastics? AF: OK, so Chris, for most part of that PhD,
I’ve been doing research. And the good thing about being
a businessperson who’s done OK at it is that people want to see you. Other businesspeople, even if you’re kind of a bit of a zoo
animal species they’d like to check out, they’ll say, yeah, OK,
we’ll all meet Twiggy Forrest. And so once you’re in there, you can interrogate them. And I’ve been to most of the oil and gas
and fast-moving consumer good companies in the world, and there is a real will to change. I mean, there’s a couple of dinosaurs who are going to hope
for the best and do nothing, but there’s a real will to change. So what I’ve been discussing is, the seven and a half billion
people in the world don’t actually deserve to have
their environment smashed by plastic, their oceans rendered depauperate
or barren of sea life because of plastic. So you come down that chain, and there’s tens of thousands of brands
which we all buy heaps of products from, but then there’s only a hundred
major resin producers, big petrochemical plants, that spew out all the plastic
which is single use. CA: So one hundred companies are right at the base
of this food chain, as it were. AF: Yeah. CA: And so what do you need
those one hundred companies to do? AF: OK, so we need them
to simply raise the value of the building blocks of plastic
from oil and gas, which I call “bad plastic,” raise the value of that, so that when it spreads through the brands
and onto us, the customers, we won’t barely even notice
an increase in our coffee cup or Coke or Pepsi, or anything. CA: Like, what, like a cent extra? AF: Less. Quarter of a cent, half a cent. It’ll be absolutely minimal. But what it does, it makes every bit of plastic
all over the world an article of value. Where you have the waste worst, say Southeast Asia, India, that’s where the wealth is most. CA: OK, so it feels like
there’s two parts to this. One is, if they will charge more money but carve out that excess and pay it — into what? —
a fund operated by someone to tackle this problem of — what? What would that money be used for,
that they charge the extra for? AF: So when I speak
to really big businesses, I say, “Look, I need you to change,
and I need you to change really fast,” their eyes are going
to peel over in boredom, unless I say, “And it’s good business.” “OK, now you’ve got my attention, Andrew.” So I say, “Right, I need
you to make a contribution to an environmental
and industry transition fund. Over two or three years, the entire global plastics industry can transition from getting
its building blocks from fossil fuel to getting its building
blocks from plastic. The technology is out there. It’s proven.” I’ve taken two multibillion-dollar
operations from nothing, recognizing that
the technology can be scaled. I see at least a dozen technologies
in plastic to handle all types of plastic. So once those technologies
have an economic margin, which this gives them, that’s where the global public
will get all their plastic from, from existing plastic. CA: So every sale of virgin plastic
contributes money to a fund that is used to basically
transition the industry and start to pay for things
like cleanup and other pieces. AF: Absolutely. Absolutely. CA: And it has
the incredible side benefit, which is maybe even the main benefit, of creating a market. It suddenly makes recyclable plastic a giant business that can unlock
millions of people around the world to find a new living collecting it. AF: Yeah, exactly. So all you do is, you’ve got fossil
fuel plastics at this value and recycled plastic at this value. You change it. So recycled plastic is cheaper. What I love about this most, Chris,
is that, you know, we waste into the environment
300, 350 million tons of plastic. On the oil and gas companies own accounts, it’s going to grow to 500 million tons. This is an accelerating problem. But every ton of that is polymer. Polymer is 1,000 dollars,
1,500 dollars a ton. That’s half a trillion dollars
which could go into business and could create jobs and opportunities
and wealth right across the world, particularly in the most impoverished. Yet we throw it away. CA: So this would allow the big companies
to invest in recycling plants literally all over the world — AF: All over the world. Because the technology
is low-capital cost, you can put it in at rubbish dumps,
at the bottom of big hotels, garbage depots, everywhere, turn that waste into resin. CA: Now, you’re a philanthropist, and you’re ready to commit
some of your own wealth to this. What is the role of philanthropy
in this project? AF: I think what we have to do
is kick in the 40 to 50 million US dollars to get it going, and then we have to create
absolute transparency so everyone can see
exactly what’s going on. From the resin producers
to the brands to the consumers, everyone gets to see
who is playing the game, who is protecting the Earth,
and who doesn’t care. And that’ll cost about
a million dollars a week, and we’re going to underwrite
that for five years. Total contribution is circa
300 million US dollars. CA: Wow. Now — (Applause) You’ve talked to other companies,
like to the Coca-Colas of this world, who are willing to do this,
they’re willing to pay a higher price, they would like to pay a higher price, so long as it’s fair. AF: Yeah, it’s fair. So, Coca-Cola wouldn’t
like Pepsi to play ball unless the whole world knew
that Pepsi wasn’t playing ball. Then they don’t care. So it’s that transparency of the market where, if people try and cheat the system, the market can see it,
the consumers can see it. The consumers want a role to play in this. Seven and a half billion of us. We don’t want our world smashed
by a hundred companies. CA: Well, so tell us, you’ve said
what the companies can do and what you’re willing to do. What can people listening do? AF: OK, so I would like all of us, all around the world, to go a website called noplasticwaste.org. You contact your hundred resin producers which are in your region. You will have at least one within an email or Twitter
or a telephone contact from you, and let them know that you would like them
to make a contribution to a fund which industry can manage
or the World Bank can manage. It raises tens of billions
of dollars per year so you can transition the industry
to getting all its plastic from plastic, not from fossil fuel. We don’t need that.
That’s bad. This is good. And it can clean up the environment. We’ve got enough capital there, we’ve got tens of billions
of dollars, Chris, per annum to clean up the environment. CA: You’re in the recycling business. Isn’t this a conflict of interest for you, or rather, a huge business
opportunity for you? AF: Yeah, look, I’m in
the iron ore business, and I compete against
the scrap metal business, and that’s why you don’t have
any scrap lying around to trip over, and cut your toe on, because it gets collected. CA: This isn’t your excuse
to go into the plastic recycling business. AF: No, I am going to cheer for this boom. This will be the internet
of plastic waste. This will be a boom industry
which will spread all over the world, and particularly where poverty is worst
because that’s where the rubbish is most, and that’s the resource. So I’m going to cheer for it
and stand back. CA: Twiggy, we’re in an era where so many people around the world
are craving a new, regenerative economy, these big supply chains,
these big industries, to fundamentally transform. It strikes me as a giant idea, and you’re going to need a lot of people
cheering you on your way to make it happen. Thank you for sharing this with us. AF: Thank you very much. Thank you, Chris. (Applause)

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100 thoughts on “A radical plan to end plastic waste | Andrew Forrest

  1. OK

    I've hypothetically picked up all the trash from the ocean. Now which zip code would you like all this garbage in?

    Soylint Green Solution is the Answer!

  2. I'm at 04:30 and I'm guessing the solution could be to do with price or put a deposit onto plastic so collectors could earn an income ….

  3. I have and answer: Why don't the companies that use plastics already donate 1 cent, without raising the price to the consumer. They charge us enough as it is…Big companies, some small, don't care about the person, just the money they have for their own use..even if they are poisoning us..

  4. Plastic waste could have never been a problem if hemp wasn't made illegal, as hemp plastics are biodegradable and hemp can easily be regrown in a matter of months. The fault lies with government

    Also look into the work Henry Ford was doing with alcohol, and how the government put an end to it. If we actually had a true free market dictating how the world should work, it would look a lot different

  5. hey.. I AM ALL FOR SAVING THE OCEANS FROM PLASTIC. I would love to see all plastic banned. period. But this dudes proposal just doesn't sound right. Did anyone else hear (essentially) this in what he said?
    "ya man I'm tellin' ya. Feed the rich even MORE… that's the way to help the poor. AND the environment! Yup, we just give the guys who made all the plastic in the first place even MORE money! … yeah man, makes total sense, its the clear solution to the problem, I swear! … no no no!! The consumer wont even feel a thing! nah! I'm telling ya, crazy as it sounds, we just need to give the 100 companies more money so they can then have a conscience. that's why they haven't shown any sings of having a conscience thus far! they need MORE money! See just raise – i mean -change the prices! Hey everyone, we need to save the planet here!! And only the 100 plastic corporations can do it! (with more money of course.)"

    We really do need to stop this plastic problem. so lets make it illegal. not raise the price and power of "big plastic." We need to limit plastic, not set plastic free. If we have too much plastic then step 1 is to STOP making plastic. Force these companies to make their millions recycling the existing plastic and let other technologies rise up to replace plastic. THAT will rid the oceans of plastic faster i am thinking. Soon enough we would be out there with big nets for the plastic rather than for the fish!

    I think the only difference this man's plan will make to the world is the amount of money things will cost. if you want to change things? change laws! change liabilities… because raising prices just sounds like someones get rich scheme.

  6. Asking plastic companies to solve plastic problem is as practical as wolves guarding the sheep. We should have high redemption value for plastic, which automatically increases recycling.

  7. This plan is overly simplistic. Recycling plastic is not merely more expensive than making new plastic; there's problems with the separation of different types of plastics and degredation. See "Why We're So Bad at Recycling Plastic": https://youtu.be/unLu7rFRGc0

  8. Approximately 50% of ocean plastic is fish nets. So… on your journey to reducing plastic and saving marine animals, don't eat them.

  9. Won't work. Recycling the plastic reduces the demand and price of the oil for making new plastic. We need a ban on disposable plastic altogether.

  10. Those 100 petro companies don't want to do less business…….?
    Recycling will put these 100 petro companies out of business.

  11. Is it just my imagination or does this grand plan depend on school age children digging through trash when they should be attending classes?
    I realize this guy isn't causing the greater problems faced by those kids and their families but, I have to say, it really bothers me when they are tossing around numbers like tens of millions of dollars to address the plastic problem while declaring some poor little girl the hero of the story because she will be left with no choice but to dig through garbage dumps for plastic in order to sell it for a few cents in order to barely survive from one day to the next. Good thing she's a hero because none of us who are ok with this grand plan can call ourselves anything if the sort. I'm so very ashamed right now.
    Something is fundamentally wrong with this world if the majority of us can't see how wrong this is.

  12. THIS is what we should work on instead of the carbon taxes because of hysterical idiots who say that billions will die in 12 years because of the climate change hoax.

  13. That's such a stupid move just making plastic expensive is not a good move. The best move is to stop using single use plastic in first place and use only recyclable plastic n not manufacture new plastic. If cost if manufacturing new recyclable plastic is more then no one would use it. Plastic should not be an option like tobacco (people know tobacco harms them yet they consume them).
    The sad part is we all agree plastic should not be consumed yet despite if many options /alternatives available we fail to apply it in our life. Co. S blame consumers and consumers blame companies. It's time to be responsible for it. Own the responsibility and start working together.

  14. Hope everyone can get instucted about this…before our brain membrane is affected…perhaps thats why we don't care

  15. I get that he's a businessman so probably won't like this, but surely the simpler application of his fix is a small tax on oil-produced plastics?

  16. 100 companies destroying the entire planet, some towns have 100 companies. How can people create such a mess and not give a f.

  17. Basically not enough people care Intel it effects them personally -humans are selfish greedy disgusting animals that will never change.. I do my part and hope the best for my family but it's gone too far to come back from.

  18. What I'm hearing is pay more for recycled trash so poor people in third world countries will dig through landfills and such to get the plastic from it. It doesn't get rid of the waste, just temporarily delays it's eventual demise as waste. Not exactly a marketable strategy, 'we're basically having poor slaves pick through landfills so you have feel good recycled plastic'!

  19. PREVENT WASTE HAPPEN. WASTE INDUSTRY is the fifth most profitable industry in the world, they will never change the approach, but systematic waste prevention works. INDUSTRY 5.0 is based on it. https://medium.com/@michael.rada/the-rich-one-own-the-garbage-bins-the-poor-ones-fill-them-up-and-pay-them-a6329de2022d

  20. It's great seeing that people want to make a real change here. Plastic waste would have to be one of, if not one of the biggest challenges that we all face worldwide – but it is also one of the greatest opportunities as well. An energy company called STORH™ is on a mission. They will be not be recycling plastics, but taking the plastic waste that is already out there and converting it back into fuels using a process called pyrolysis. This process will involve establishing 100 units worldwide, processing anywhere between 18,000 kgs to 40,000 kgs per day. If you'd like to take a stake in this opportunity, you can. To learn more about STORH™ watch the 1:30 minute overview here – https://youtu.be/D1Odh2YFW6U and here – https://youtu.be/EXHp1tREgLw?t=590 www.ugeurope.com

  21. I see how it can happen though… make it an article of value, and then people will start picking up plastics to sell for money. simple yet powerful.

  22. I remember when soda was delivered in glass returnable bottles. Two cents deposit on small bottles and 5 cents on large. This was more than 50 years ago. We had to sort the bottles and the delivery drivers would collect them.
    Capitalism eats it's young.

  23. That's our mission! Turn plastic waste into eco friendly fuel!
    Remember company Cloud Horizon, you will hear about it in 2020 😉

  24. Ugggh, ignorance is bliss but not knowing or caring will doom us all. Hopefully this generation can take their eyes off their phone long enough to get a glance at the problem.

  25. Just raise the price and make sure that you're competitors do the same… simple… NOT! Dude, not even OPEC can keep the few oil producers in line and you think humans are going to magically change habits to fit your pie in the sky dream of price fixing on a scale of billions of people? Release the bacteria that can eat up plastic already, laboratories have them

  26. Government across the world need to introduce a significant "Virgin Plastic Tax/Tariff" and channel the money to the "Plastic Recycling Economy" to proper maintain a proper market price gap of Virgin Plastic and Recycled Plastic.

  27. Garbage plastic when chopped and mixed with gravel then heated makes roads that last ten years without potholes. I think a lot of these poor nations would like some really good roads, don't you?

  28. One of the great Australians.

    We should be offered the possibility of taking our own containers (which could be plastic¹) and have them replenished at stores. Yes I have considered the problems with spigot safety but that isn't an insurmountable problem. Necessary packaging could be reduced to film and cardboard.

    ¹Glass and Stainless would be cumbersome and much heavier.

  29. I'm sorry, but his plan is complete nonsense.
    Plastic can only be recycled 3 to 9 times "depending on the type of plastic and what you're trying to recycle it into" and then it's useless. They need to change from oil based plastic to completely biodegradable plastics. For instance, there's a plastic called Casein it's made of milk. I'm not sure if you can make plastic bottles out of it, but maybe there's an acceptable alternative out there, if we just force the corporation's to look for it. Seriously, we need to just outlaw non-biodegradable plastics altogether and go back to glass bottles and use cloth bags, untill an acceptable alternative is found.
    Not mention the plastic manufacturers, lobby against any kind of regulation against plastics.
    They don't care what happens to the planet or the human race, they just want their money.

  30. I worked at the Chevron Phillips Expansion in TX….they now have a HUGE facility making plastics, netting 8,000,000$/day in profits.
    From plastics 🤣🔎🇺🇸

  31. Now everyone gets to learn that oil corporations fund political parties, the media and spoon feed the public propaganda, so that they can keep selling oil to the plastic industry. Big business funds the media and legislators so everyone has zero chance of this happening. Look at Australia, Labor was set up as target, to get Liberal into government, so we can keep steam rolling the environment. Stupidity is the human races biggest enemy.

  32. Great initiative, but why not force all plastic manufacturers that for every amount of plate generated they are responsible for recycling and processing the same amount by investing and creating plants or paying third parties to do so.
    And when Mr billionaire? Asia is destroying the planet with pollution but no one goes into China and India
    To protest, they always bring their issues to America which is the only country that seems to do something
    About it.
    When Mr billionare, have you gone to China and India to speak lately or that is taboo because it will affect your relations with the comunist bastards ? Or may be you think they are listening over there to Ted talks.
    When Mr billionaire? Why you only want to invest 50 million, you have billions, how many times a day you
    Can eat?.

  33. Could concentrate on specific areas to enable certain wildlife systems maybe to buffer or preserve areas? Where from there could work outward? Could not the plastic be used to create infrastructure?

  34. Very good, put the petition link as just a flash at the beginning no explanation most people probably don't watch until the end.

  35. Twiggy Forrest: End Slavery….bs. Aboriginal Co-operation….bs. Carbon Tax….bs. Plastic plan from Forrest? BS.

  36. Burn plastic for energy and make new plastic more expensive.
    If you use oilbased energy to recycle oilbased plastic you end up having used more oil.
    Plastic has nearly the same burning energy as oil.
    Also the molecular chanes degenerate during recycling. So plastic becomes less usable with each recycling turn.

    In many fields where we use a lot of plastic there are great biodegradable alternative.
    Use them.

  37. I am a sceptic. Not on the idea but on how the money finds its way to real good. I dont give to charities due to the administration costs (percentage) vs the donations intent. I have given to people directly and perhaps there is a way here to avoid the bloat of administration.

  38. Honestly sounds great, and we need more billionaires of the world to lead the change financially. But I'm wondering how do you filter out contaminants? Rubbish isn't clean plastic. I'm simply curious.

  39. Beh not feasible, the governments of the world need to tax all plastic and put the money to recycling programs. Child or adult slavery is never a good option like he is suggesting.

  40. This is actually a really good idea but not exactly rocket science. The hardest part is transparency and getting everyone on board. Shame he didn't mention the role of fishing in contributing 45% of ocean plastic through nets that break off. If we care about fish and other ocean life then we need to keep in off our plates too.

    ps. Oh and fish feel pain

  41. The dream of Jeremy Parker has started. "Le très grand nettoyage" a commencé. Editionsrodarima.ch – See https://youtu.be/3825TMvO-wQ

  42. Companies wouldn't do it. If even a single company refuses to sign on then it has a huge advantage over those who do sign on. Because of this, no company would sign on until all of the other companies already signed on….

  43. DAMN
    THEY ACT LIKE IT JUST GOT BE ROADS AND NOT PARKING LOTS ,WALKWAYS, BIKE PATHS AND TRAILS ,RESIDENTIAL BACKYARDS , PLAYGROUNDS, BASKETBALL COURTS, ECT
    SILLY HUMANS

  44. PROHIBIT the use of fossil crude oil to produce plastic and switch to Hemp or other safe biodegradable plant to produce ALL plastic, as we clean up and contain older crude oil based plastics – but they won't allow this idea to get steam to move forward – because in case you haven't noticed the Globalist want to destroy what the true creator has made they are influenced by satan, and don't even realize it.

  45. Why not just apply an energy tax to petroleum companies who make 'new' plastic, and a subsidy to industries who make recycled plastic? Then outright BAN the imports from countries which do no fall in line? This sounds easier than what you're proposing.

    Also its stupid for the following reasons:
    1. Companies are forced to spend profit into a competing industry
    2. The competing industry diminishes the revenue of the existing one
    3. Much of the waste plastic is in the fucking OCEAN anyway
    4. You haven't stated how the waste plastic on land will be requisitioned
    5. It will probably be requisitioned by the child, whom you said should be in school
    6. It's unthinkable that you to imagine 100 petroleum companies will agree to this plan, when your company Fortescue Mining cannot even release data on scope 3 emissions like BHP, Rio Tinto, South32

  46. Try tell Asia to stop dumping barges of garbage in the oceans and guilting the west for it! This would be a start. Seriously though weak argument and the problem won't be fixed unless we get everyone on Earth to comply. I'm all for cleaning up the environment and not polluting but come on, it just can't be us only. Stop guilting the west and address the real issue! Sad….

  47. If just the group of us who watched this, did what he asked.. it would be well on its way to a working idea… Oh my…

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