When Purpose, Strategy and Execution Align, Anything Is Possible


It’s not every day that you get the opportunity to change the world, but that’s exactly what we’re doing through our work with Plastic Bank.

I first met David Katz, the founder of Plastic Bank, some years ago; he was part of the Entrepreneurial Masters Programme at MIT in Boston where I was the facilitator on Execution. This was before Plastic Bank had come into existence; before it was even an idea.

In the intervening time, David spent some time in the very much ‘third world’ surroundings of Haiti where he observed plastic waste everywhere, all of which eventually ends up in our oceans. He was also struck by the absolute poverty; the majority of people have no income sources. The experience stayed with him and soon afterwards, when presented with the question: “how do you have a massive impact on humanity?” the idea that became Plastic Bank emerged.

I was lucky enough to subsequently bump into David again at an Entrepreneurs Organization event. It was there that he told me about his new venture. Now here was an idea that had a truly compelling purpose; to stop ocean bound plastic. “You’re going to need some help with that!” I told David, and I offered to volunteer my services and Advisory.Works until the idea was commercialised.

Fast-forward to now and there are businesses coming on board from all sides, multiple sources of capital being proffered and NGOs chomping at the bit to get behind the model.

Purpose driven success

You’ve seen some of the ‘why’ – but what exactly is Plastic Bank, and how do they do what they do? At the most basic level, Plastic Bank stop ocean plastic while reducing poverty. That seems like a lofty proposition, but they do this by turning plastic waste into a currency; exchanging plastic for money, and then turning it into a commodity

While Plastic Bank are all about cleaning up the big mess that we’ve made, it doesn’t stop there. Plastic Bank connect with big brands that use plastic and provide the means for them to purchase and use plastic in their products in a socially responsible way. The reality is that there is enough plastic in our seas, or rolling around in our streets, that there is little or no need to produce any more virgin plastic. In this way, Plastic Bank are empowering recycling ecosystems on a global scale – all while helping impoverished people build a better future.

So what makes Plastic Bank different to other social enterprises? First off, they’ve created a category Social Plastic and they’re owning it. Different to the raw or virgin plastic, and different to that which is recycled by more standard means, Social Plastic is collected by impoverished locals, taken to a collection centre where it gets weighed, and collectors receive a credit , via a Blockchain app, that can then be traded for goods and services. In this way, Plastic Bank are delivering a globally scalable social impact – and a ‘root cause’ solution to prevent the flow of plastic into our oceans.

From working alongside David, and coaching and supporting him, while the Plastic Bank concept was coming into existence – to facilitating their quarterly and annual strategic planning days, I’m honoured to a part of the Plastic Bank’s journey.



This blog was written by Simon Mundell, CEO at Advisory Works.

#inspirational, #leadership, #doingtheimpossible, #strategicexecutionpartner

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