Global Social Impact Initiative

The German company Plastic Fischer fishs plastic out of rivers in India and Indonesia with the help of waste barriers ("trashbooms"). They publish their method so that it can be copied by everyone. Plastic Fischer has won a price at the "German Sustainability Award 2023". The interview has been conducted with Selina Herzog, who is responsible for business development.

1. What problem do you tackle?

We tackle the problem of plastic pollution in our oceans by cleaning the rivers in India and Indonesia with our swimming barriers. We call them „trashbooms“, which have specifically been developed for this purpose. In countries like India people do not have a waste collection provided by the state so they use the rivers to get rid of their waste. That is why in the long term it is necessary to support those countries to build up such a system.

2. What is your approach?

The trashbooms are the essential part of our 3L-initiative: they can be produced „locally“, at „low-cost“ and „low-tech“, which means that this system is easy to replicate. In India we are cleaning 37 rivers and have four bases, where most of our staff is working. Each day they go to the rivers, collect the plastic, dry it at the bases and weigh it, because the weight is essential to display our impact: So far we have collected 1000 tons of plastic, and individuals and companies can support us according to the simple formula: one euro for one kilogram. If a company supports us with 1000 euros, we garantee to collect 1 ton of plastic. After collecting and drying the plastic it is sorted into the categories recyclable and non-recycable. The recycable plastic is transported to a recycling company (something we would like to set up in the future, too). The non-recycable plastic is "utilized thermic", which means it is used for enery production.

3. How many people do you employ?

All in all we have 88 people working for Plastic Fischer, three of them in Germany, the most of them in India and some are working in Indonesia, where we have one base so far. In that way we have both an environmental impact and a social one since we employ people in these countries.

4. How much money do you need to solve the problem in the country you operate? (estimate)

This is difficult to estimate, but if we really wanted to scale up in India nationwide, we surely would have to multiply our company with the factor 10. This means, we would have to hire between 800 and 1000 people to build up an organisation which could cover all rivers in India. For this we might need an investment of 75 million euro per year.

5. How much time would it take and what other ressources would be required?

It takes us three months to get a license for a base, but to scale up nationwide we might need between 2 and 3 years. What could also be useful is political support in terms of getting the licenses as soon as possible.

6. What would be the next steps, if you got the money for solving it nationally?

The first step would be to get the licenses. Afterwards we would start to hire the staff we need and to found the bases. Finally the production of the trashbooms would be the next step to start our work.

7. Contact information/ website: