All Profits Aside, This Company Dedicated to Ocean Cleanup

Jul 7, 2023

Thought Question: If you could create something new from recycled materials, what would you make?

A company is usually meant to make as much money as it can. But this business model can include doing good, too. 

For 4ocean, that means cleaning up the world’s bodies of water from plastic pollution. The company recently hit a milestone. It has now pulled 30 million pounds of plastic waste from oceans, rivers, and coastlines.

The company makes money by turning the plastics into products. These include bracelets made by artisans in Guatemala and Bali. 4ocean also accepts corporate sponsorships from companies that want to offset their plastic usage.  

4ocean operates in 12 locations across two continents. It launched in 2017. It's listed as a Public Benefit B Corporation in Florida. It employs 185 people. They work in the US, Indonesia, and Guatemala. 

Since the 1950s, the world has produced about 18.3 trillion pounds of plastic. Less than 10% of this is recycled. Almost 80% pollutes the environment. The World Economic Forum predicts that global production of plastic will triple by 2050.  

4ocean is now cleaning up the Rio Motagua River. It's in Guatemala. It accounts for about 2% of all the plastic waste going into our oceans each year.   

“When they say a small group of dedicated people can change the world, believe them,” Alex Schulze said in a news release. He's the 4ocean CEO and co-founder. “Reaching 30 million pounds of plastic and trash removed from the oceans is just the first step. We still have a lot of work to do.”

Photo from Instagram courtesy of @4ocean.

Based on the details in the story, how much of the world’s plastic gets properly recycled? (Common Core RI.5.1; RI.6.1)
a. about 30 million pounds annually
b. almost 80%
c. less than 10%
d. about 2%
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