Collaborating for Cleaner Waters: B Corp Initiative Funds Research to Reduce Plastics in the Ocean

B Corps Preserve and Grove Collaborative Bring Low-Impact Plastic Products to Sustainability-Minded Consumers with Proceeds Aiding Ocean-Cleanup Nonprofits

(Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash)

Each year, an estimated 9 million tons of plastic enter our oceans, littering beaches, clogging waterways, and affecting marine life. Beyond the dramatic images of plastic pollution in oceans, the ecosystem effects are increasingly stark.

In the wake of these warnings, an initiative advanced through a partnership of two Certified B Corporations gives people a way to act on the issue of plastics in the ocean and create hope for the future through their business operations and offerings.

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Aiding Ocean Pollution Research

Through the Preserve Ocean Plastic Initiative (POPi), B Corp Preserve is creating toothbrushes and razor handles made from recycled plastic recovered during ocean cleanups by partner organizations. POPi expands on Preserve’s existing line of low-impact products created with innovative sustainable materials and initially will be available through a partnership with fellow B Corp Grove Collaborative, an online subscription platform for sustainable home products.

But POPi — set to launch late this month — will go a step beyond offering recycled products. It also will fund organizations that work to keep plastic waste out of the oceans, says Eric Hudson, Founder and CEO at Preserve, based in Waltham, Massachusetts.

The concept emerged a few years ago, he says, when news about plastics in the ocean became more frequent and alarming, and research into the issue also deepened. He notes one report that found 10 major rivers contribute 93% of the plastics that get to the ocean via rivers, a statistic that prompted Preserve to action.

“We said to ourselves that we needed to be involved in the ocean plastics problem,” Hudson says. “We were very aware of the work that was being done to research the problem and seek to find solutions. In the last three years we became more in tune with what those solutions can be.”

Join the Ocean Cleanup at Champions Retreat: B Corps MaCher, Bureo and Inspire Energy have teamed with B Local Los Angeles to lead a cleanup of Venice Beach. Surfrider, a volunteer-activist network dedicated to protecting and enjoying the world’s oceans and beaches, will lead this educational opportunity under the sun.

Providing funds for research into those solutions is a key component of POPi: Preserve will give 25% of net proceeds to organizations working to stop the flow of plastic pollution from source to sea. The first two benefactor organizations are Renew Oceans and Five Gyres.

“Five Gyres are really breaking trails as related to research and the effects of plastics on the ocean,” Hudson says of the Los Angeles-based nonprofit. “They’re getting out there, doing trips on boats, screening for plastics, understanding what has happened to plastics and the ecosystems they’re affecting. They’re also trying to bring the hopeful side to their research.”

Renew Oceans, a nonprofit headquartered in India, works to stop the flow of plastics into major rivers and then into the ocean, Hudson says, focusing on the highly populated areas near rivers in developing parts of the world.

“Renew Oceans is all about going at these rivers one at a time and using catchment technologies that screen the surface of the river to stop the flow of plastics in that river toward the ocean,” he says. “We’re really excited to be supporting them and their efforts. As POPi moves on beyond launch, we’d like to join our partners for either a day of research on a ship or in a lab or actually screen the rivers.”

Sharing information and creating conversations about the issue of ocean plastics is a part of POPi’s broader goals, Hudson says. He points to research from Five Gyers that says if the flow of plastics into oceans can be reduced by 20% in the next seven years, that would return the ocean a state of homeostasis where marine life can better tolerate the amount of plastics.

“It’s a hopeful goal. There’s a lot that can be done to reduce this flow by 20%,” he says, noting that a broader contributing factor are inadequate waste management systems in some countries. “That’s an area where the whole world has a stake in their waste, to better process their waste.”

Through POPi, Preserve will develop razor handles and toothbrushes made from plant-based, marine biodegradable materials. 25% of the proceeds of POPi products sold will be donated to nonprofits that work to clean up oceans and beaches, support marine conservation, and research plastic pollution.

A Natural Collaboration

The other POPi partnership, with Grove Collaborative, emerged after a meeting earlier this year at Expo West, where Hudson outlined POPi and its global goals to protect the ocean and raise awareness of plastic pollution.

“They essentially were our little Kickstarter,” Hudson says. “It’s a very good example of B Corps working together.”

Grove Collaborative, which has a large and loyal following of sustainability-minded subscribers, shares Hudson’s enthusiasm for POPi and its overarching goals, CEO Stuart Landesberg says.

“We are excited to be the exclusive marketplace for the launch of POPi, an initiative that is so aligned with our core mission,” he says. “Like Preserve, Grove is committed to reducing the impact of plastic on our planet. This year alone, Grove will save 1 million pounds of plastic from entering the oceans and is honored to partner with other brands working toward a plastic-free future.”

To spread the word about POPi, Grove will use its social, digital and email channels to inform its community and provide a forum for customers looking to act on the challenge of plastics in the ocean.

B the Change gathers and shares the voices from within the movement of people using business as a force for good and the community of Certified B Corporations. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the nonprofit B Lab.

Collaborating for Cleaner Waters: B Corp Initiative Funds Research to Reduce Plastics in the Ocean was originally published in B the Change on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Source: B the Change

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