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Method Turns Ocean Trash Into Packaging

| Friday August 3rd, 2012 | 16 Comments

By now, much of the world has heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. For the uninitiated, it’s a huge island of trash in the central Pacific, a majority of it said to be composed of fast food packaging. There’s been a lot of work done to measure it and analyze it. But there’s not been much movement around what to actually do with what’s already there.

Until now.

Cleaning product company Method has come up with a novel way to take action, while engaging the communities affected by it. Hawaii’s beaches are frequently the final destination for debris from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, as the winds and currents carrying the garbage there. Method hosted numerous beach cleanups during National Oceans Month, linking up employees, customers and volunteers from non-profits Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and Kokua Hawai’i Foundation. They collected more than 3000 pounds of usable plastic material.

But whereas most ocean cleanups just move the trash from the coast to the dump, Method went further, and is incorporating it into its already 100% post consumer packaging for its new Sea Minerals line.

This is not only beneficial to the environment, it’s a smart move as a business, as it clearly demonstrates its commitment to innovatively make an impact, together with several stakeholder groups. It meaningfully differentiates Method from other companies and is a highly shareable story for participants to pass on, both at the time of the cleanups and when the resulting products hit the shelves.

Method is clear that one initiative alone cannot solve the issue of ocean pollution, but that by doing something unique and beneficial, it will draw more awareness to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  On the business side, as Method puts it, their intention is to, “…use our business to demonstrate smart ways of using and reusing the plastics that are already on the planet.”

This is where the real impact can be made, as it will give other companies the courage to explore similar options, now that they have an in the field product that shows something can now be done with this previously unsolvable issue.

Readers: What other initiatives to address the Great Pacific Garbage Patch have you seen out there? What else do you envision being done? Would your company pursue such initiatives as Method has?

via Inhabitat


Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, global trend tracker, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media marketing.



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  • Edwin Dawson

    How about a floating waste processing station located at the epicentre of the patch?

    • ssj12

       First let seasteading start, then that might be possible.

      • Paul Smith

        Say more Edwin. What would you envision the waste being processed into? And ssj12, what’s seasteading and how would it play a part/be of benefit?

  • Chris Sherwin

    Hi there, its a great story, but this announcement is now at least 15 months old now. There are loads of others similar developments that you might better cover

  • Ben

    cue the Twilight Zone theme music…

  • Chris Sherwin
  • LittleCityFarms

    Are they doing this on an ongoing basis or is this a one-time thing?  It’s great, but if consumers are led to believe that all their products are packaged with sea-trash when they’re not that’d be greenwashing.

    • Paul Smith

      I don’t know if it’s ongoing, but it’s being launched on one particular line, not the entirety of their offerings at this point.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Julia-Kious-Zabell/755915923 Julia Kious Zabell

    Well, it’s certainly an inspired step in the right direction!

  • Dave

    Not trying to disparage this effort, especially if it is about education on an important issue, but this is a bit of a slippery slope toward greenwashing even as the article stands now. 3000 lbs of trash does not constitute enough plastic for a ‘line’ of new products, nor does the actual business model work in any fashion for collecting the materials…which makes this really all about marketing. 

    The truly smart solution here is a move away from plastics all-together, either through use of compostable materials or the promotion of reuse and sale of bulk goods to reduce packaging. When the method sea minerals line reaches the shore, what loop have we closed?

    Method likely deserves lots of credit for many CSR initiatives, not sure this should be included. 

  • carl

    ok listen you stupid people who disagree i want this to stop because i love our EARTH

  • lafemmeartiste

    The new global-human design assignment, going forward: http://www.ted.com/talks/william_mcdonough_on_cradle_to_cradle_design
    Educate thyself, and thy neighbors! ;)