Ocean Pollution

TerraCycle Foundation cleaning Thailand's waterways

Two years into operation, the TerraCycle Foundation has been able to clear more than 580 tonnes of waste from heavily polluted waterways in Thailand to stop waste from entering the ocean.

Written by Oceanographic Staff
Photographs by TerraCycle Foundation

Some 80 percent of plastic waste in the ocean is transported via rivers or coastlines, demonstrating the importance of collecting it as far upstream as possible. To tackle this source of pollution, the TerraCycle Global Foundation, a non-profit founded by TerraCycle, has cleared 581 tonnes of waste from Thai waterways – roughly equivalent to the weight of more than 350 cars – in its first two years.

The foundation has operated in canals throughout Bangkok since June 2020. It partners with local community and government organisations to stop waste from reaching the ocean where it degrades and becomes harder to capture and recycle.

Using innovative wildlife-safe traps, the foundation collects all types of waste, including plastic, reducing the chance of the waste breaking down into microplastics and other hard-to-capture particles.

“In its relatively short lifespan, the TerraCycle Global Foundation has already had a significant impact on the health of our planet,” said Tom Szaky, founder of TerraCycle.

He continued: “Not only has the Foundation made waterways cleaner and safer places for wildlife, but we have seen real benefits to the local communities as well. We’re proud of our team members for their dedication to driving our mission forward and showing how crucial collecting waste before it has reached the ocean really is.”

Since June 2020, the TerraCycle Global Foundation’s operations have provided safe and quality employment for 11 people from the local Lat Phrao community in Bangkok, and have created healthier environments for over 7,000 households alongside the canal with a cleaner environment.

There are three river traps currently in operation in Thai canals, and each trap collects about 150,000 -175,000 pounds of waste directly from the water per year. The Foundation is looking to expand across a number of regions of the world suffering from heavily polluted waterways.


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Written by Oceanographic Staff
Photographs by TerraCycle Foundation