The least interesting, most effective way to cut plastic pollution?

Garbage trucks
CC BY 2.0 Garbage trucks/ Lloyd Alter

It sometimes seems like everyone and their mother is trying to solve the plastic pollution crisis right now.

But for all of the focus on ocean cleanup arrays, Seabins, or aquatic bicycles converted to collect trash, we probably shouldn't forget the simpler solutions too. And specifically, by that, I mean municipal garbage collection.

Specifically, given the fact that researchers point to only 10 rivers as being the main source of the vast majority of ocean-borne plastic, it seems fair to say that strategic investments in municipal waste collection, recycling and street cleaning in communities around those rivers could play an outsized role in reducing how much plastic makes it out to sea in the first place.

Circulate Capital (formerly Closed Loop Partners) aims to put that theory into practice. According to a report in Plastics News, CEO Rob Kaplan will be spearheading the effort, with a specific focus on establishing the infrastructure necessary to make waste collection and repurposing the norm, rather than the exception. Here's how Kaplan explains it:

"Our goal is to remove capital as a barrier. Circulate Capital seeks to fill capital gaps and prove the investment market by financing opportunities that collect, sort, process and manufacture using waste in areas known to contribute to the ocean plastic crisis. Our firm isn't the only solution to ocean plastic, and we depend on enabling policies, regulatory environments, supply chains, and strong partnerships in the ecosystem."

The company estimates that there's an opportunity to reduce waste "leakage" into the ocean by as much as 45% in China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand. Of course, that still leaves an awful lot of "mopping up" to do by the likes of Seabins, The Ocean Cleanup Project or simply brave souls on their #2MinuteBeachCleans.

But it would still be a major contribution to what is increasingly feeling like a war on multiple fronts.

The least interesting, most effective way to cut plastic pollution?
It's not sexy. But it works.

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