Can celebrities successfully tackle the plastic waste challenge?

G star raw for the oceans

Major pop stars are helping to raise awareness of plastic pollution and promote products made with recycled plastic content. Musician and entrepreneur is collaborating with Coca-Cola on a 3D printer that uses recycled PET bottles as input material for new objects. Meanwhile, singer Pharrell Williams has just won a prestigious Cannes design prize for a new line of denim clothing made of ocean plastic waste. But will their efforts be truly game-changing, given the scale of the plastic waste challenge?

“It’s great that celebrities with significant power to influence young people are coming up with designs that make use of recycled materials,” says Nigel Hunton, MBA’s CEO. “They can play an important role in making products with recycled content desirable. However, ultimately, what we need to make substantial progress on reducing plastic waste are cost-effective, scalable technologies that can process large quantities of plastic and transform them into new materials.”

Celebrity innovations

The new 3D printer has been launched under the EKOCYCLE brand, a joint initiative by and Coca-Cola to make products incorporating recycled plastic ‘cool’. It allows users to create fashion and music accessories with a printer filament made partly from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles.

In 2013, told Jo Confino, an executive editor of the Guardian, that “we should make ‘to plastic’ a verb,” when describing his ambitions to help people see plastic waste as a commodity. He explained that he had actively sought Coca-Cola’s support for the EKOCYCLE project, which has now expanded to include brand partnerships with Levi Strauss, Adidas and the National Basketball Association (NBA). In order to become a brand partner, companies must prove their products uses at least 25% recycled PET.

RAW for the oceans

Pharrell Williams’s ‘RAW for the Oceans’ line of denim clothing, which comprises jeans made with fibres created from ocean plastic waste, won first prize at the inaugural Cannes Product Design Grand Prix. The new line is the result of a collaboration with the Bionic Yarn company and the Vortex Project, and will be in stores from September 2014. The judges said it was a visionary project that stood out for its form, function and innovation, as well as its sustainability ambitions.

Tackling plastic waste at scale

At MBA Polymers, we process more than 110,000 tonnes of plastic waste annually from post-consumer durable goods including cars, electronics and construction waste. At our three high technology processing plants, we create high quality secondary raw materials for companies including HP, Nespresso and Electrolux. Importantly, our recycled plastic pellets require less than 20% of the energy needed to produce virgin plastic.

» Visit the RAW for the Oceans website