Aiming to put an end to ocean plastics while creating income opportunities for those who collect it, Australia-based company For Purpose Recycling is launching a unisex utility belt made of recycled ocean plastic collected from beaches of Indonesia. Each belt funds the prevention of 10 kilograms worth of plastic waste from entering the ocean (the equivalent of 50,000 single-use plastic bags), all while improving the lives of local community members.

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How does the business model work? The company builds cost-effective waste collection points within Indonesian coastal communities that lack access to basic waste services, giving locals the opportunity to sell the plastic waste they collect for a profit. What’s more, For Purpose Recycling also funds waste and environmental education programs with local institutions to create community outreach and empower community members. The company follows a circular model by reintroducing the recovered ocean-bound plastic waste into new, sustainable products: fashionable and functional utility belts.

Related: A vision for an island made of plastic waste in the ocean

cobalt blue utility belt on a beach
person wearing black T-shirt, mauve pants and orange utility belt

According to For Purpose Recycling, although 39% of the total plastic waste in Indonesian cities is collected, only about 16% is collected in rural and remote areas. The company’s network of waste collection centers allows locals to exchange plastic waste for things like cash, school tuition and health insurance, adding a lucrative incentive to collect recyclable waste. It is increasing the recycling capacity in the areas as well by building more recycling infrastructure (in 2017, just 10% of the plastic generated in Indonesia was recycled).

green utility belt on pile of green leaves
two people in pastel outfits and wearing utility belts made of recycled plastic

The For Purpose Recycling utility belts cost $46 (USD) each and come in four colors: Komodo Black, Jeruk Orange, Subak Green and Lolo Blue. Fully adjustable, minimal and fashioned from recycled polyester, the belts are made in China in a factory that’s certified as Global Recycled Standard by third-party certifier Textile Exchange. Once the belt has reached the end of its life, consumers can send it back to For Purpose Recycling to be recycled for store credit.

person wearing white outfit and black recycled plastic utility belt
dark green utility belt on a beach

For Purpose Recycling partners with local nonprofits with connections to the community to create a long-term impact, an aspect it hopes will help the company achieve its goal of preventing 1 million kilograms of plastic from entering the oceans by 2023.

+ For Purpose Recycling

Images via For Purpose Recycling

two people in black and white outfits wearing utility belts