Alumni Young Judaea Alumnus on a Mission to Clear Up Ocean Plastic Pollution
By Raffi Schieir
During my time with Young Judaea I participated in summer camps, went on Year Course in Israel and continued as a Peer Leadership Educator with Young Judaea in my early 20s. At Young Judaea we were empowered with skills to truly make a difference in our communities and my life’s mission, to prevent ocean plastic pollution at scale, no doubt stems from these critical experiences.
Research shows, if we continue on our current trajectory, the annual flow of plastic entering the ocean will triple by 2040, to 29 million metric tons. I was convinced there must be a plastic packaging solution that prevented damage to the world’s oceans and ultimately, I have made this my career.
Originally from Canada, I have lived in the UK for the past ten years. I founded Bantam Materials over a decade ago and established the Prevented Ocean Plastic program in December 2019. Our Prevented Ocean Plastic program diverts plastic away from our oceans and supports coastal communities in developing countries by assisting bottle collectors, collection centers and local recyclers based there, by paying for the collection of waste bottles and other plastic. I am proud to say it is currently the largest ocean plastic prevention program in the world.
My work has taken me all over the world pushing for and structuring initiatives for ethics of Tikkun Olam and I have been lucky enough to meet people from every walk of life. I’ve even met with government ministers and industry leaders about national recycling policies to advise them on what needs to change based on what I have seen first-hand.
The coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated to all of us how interconnected we all are. This is something I have given a lot of thought to, particularly in an environmental sense. Waste plastic from the west litters coastlines of developing countries causing pollution and harming the communities who make their livelihoods from the ocean.
95% of plastic packaging loses its material value, equivalent to $80-120 billion annually, after one time use. With programs like Prevented Ocean Plastic in place collection of these waste plastics can help support people living in poverty, by providing a reliable income, while helping clean up the natural environment and protect oceans from plastic pollution.