PlasticShore volunteers Taylor Bachand

Victoria enviro-group seeks business solution to plastic waste

Hope is to create incentive to collect plastic debris

Andrew Almack is nearing the end of a personal, 30-day plastic-free campaign.

He’s been buying bulk food and local produce and along the way has found himself eating healthier and saving money.

Almack, 23, is trying to practice what he preaches as founder and managing director of a new organization called PlasticShore. The not-for-profit organization aims to raise awareness about the environmental impact of plastic debris and provide incentives and funding for community collection efforts.

“Our whole mandate is to try to utilize plastic debris to create the greatest impact in society,” Almack said.

PlasticShore is undertaking an online crowdfunding campaign to raise about $3,000 to run a pilot project for collection this summer.

While the details have yet to be ironed out, Almack said he has recycling company EnCorp Pacific’s Return-It facilities on board as a collection point for material gathered by community groups.

Reducing the amount of plastics in the marine and land environments is one thing – not to mention changing people’s behaviour around littering. But Almack, who has a business degree, knows there has to be a market for the material. That’s why a major part of the plan is to create a certification program for products manufactured from discarded plastics.

“Just like Free Trade has created a demand for ethically sourced products, we want to create the same kind of demand for plastic-based products,” Almack said.

The idea behind PlasticShore developed when Almack was a business student at Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke, Que. In 2010 he chose a heady topic for his marketing and entrepreneurship honours thesis topic: Recycling Marine Plastic Debris, the perceived value in the marketplace and implications for commercial viability.

For the past few of months he’s been gathering support for the idea, primarily amongst young adults, but also from such organizations as University of Victoria-based Ocean Networks and the Georgia Strait Initiative.

At a recent World Oceans Day celebration, Almack’s group showed off a board of lumber made from recycled plastic. From a mass marketing perspective, however, he envisions more everyday items such as office supply and household products being certified under the PlasticShore program.

He hopes to gauge the public’s interest in such recycled products this summer.

To find out more about the group or to contribute to its fundraising campaign, visit weeve.it/project/home/54 or plasticshore.org or call Almack at 250-686-1136.

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