One of Australia’s richest men, Andrew Forrest has pledged $442m of his own money to help cleanse the world of 350 million tonnes of discarded plastic that is choking oceans and overflowing landfills.
He says the plastic can be recycled and sold for as much as $US1500 a tonne for recycling.
A top priority for his clean-up scheme would be the sickening eyesore of the massive island of plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean.
Launching his scheme in New York Mr Forrest said he had the support of US president Donald Trump in helping end an estimated $2.2 trillion tonnes of plastic waste around the world.
Using his Minderoo Foundation, Mr Forrest, the chairman of mining company Fortescue, said the project’s initial aim was to raise $US20b to combat the plastic problem. In time it would rise to $US100b a year.
He proposed the money be raised by a levy on the world’s manufacturers of plastic.
“The Trump administration loves big new businesses. This is big new business,” he told the AFR.
“The US administration is very worried about the prevalence of discarded plastic around the world and is looking for solutions to reclaiming it and recycling it.
Used plastic, unlike scrap metals, has limited appeal for recycling.
Experts estimate that as much as 90 per cent of used plastic is discarded every year
Mr Forrest says that under his reclaiming scheme, discarded plastic could be world as much as $US1500 a tonne on the market to recyclers.
Mr Forrest, who has just finished three years of academic study at the University of Western Australia to complete his PhD in marine ecology, regards the emergence of plastic as undoubtedly the greatest threat to the world’s oceans
It’s a view supported by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation which estimates there will be a tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish in the oceans by 2025.
“That’s enough plastic to totally overwhelm marine life. So we have five years to get this job done,” Mr Forrest said in the AFR.