Sweden-based water purification and beverage solutions provider Bluewater has helped clean 85,000 kilograms of plastic waste in the past three years from coastal areas in Africa and Asia.
Working with Empower, an international Norwegian blockchain-enabled plastic recycling organization, the Bluewater initiative saw waste collected, sorted, and recycled in coastal areas, in Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Tanzania, India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia.
The waste collected is equivalent to approximately 7.1 million PET bottles.
“We are delivering on our pledge to collect 1 kg of plastic from coastal environments for every one of our sustainable bottles sold,” says Bluewater founder and CEO Bengt Rittri.
The Swedish environmental entrepreneur, who founded Bluewater in 2013 intending to harness human ingenuity to halt the need for destructive plastic bottles and the microplastic they leach, noted that the plastic collected would be enough to fill over 7,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Empower gives people up to €0.30 (about C$0.44) per bottle returned, while producers that participate can obtain an environmental tax write-off. The Empower idea stems from Norway’s national plastic exchange system in which 97% of all plastic bottles are recycled.
Wilhelm Myrer, Empower CEO, says, “Blockchain allows for seamless tracking and monetization of plastic – even in third world countries where most of the population are unbanked. Tracking every aspect of the journey – from on-the-ground plastic pickup operations to eventual reuse in other products, allows an extremely high level of transparency attractive to a purpose-driven brand like Bluewater and consumers.”
Rittri believes that the problem of ocean plastic can be fixed using human ingenuity, which is why he is building an innovation-driven beverage organization focused on creative, conceptual approaches to what he calls ‘social water’, which is about changing attitudes and approaches to how people access and use water for drinking, cleaning, and washing.
“More and more people understand the threats posed by climate change and unsustainable use of throwaway plastics like single-use plastic bottles but don’t always realize solutions exist to many of the issues,” he said.