From the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to a stray soda bottle stuck in a sewer grate, evidence of plastic waste clogging up earth’s waterways is everywhere. Milwaukee-area company RSP, Inc., a contract manufacturer for over 50 years, is helping to change that. RSP has partnered with Oceanworks to offer customers recycled plastics recovered or diverted from the world’s oceans and rivers to make their products.
Oceanworks uses blockchain to ensure authenticity, so RSP customers who opt for recycled plastics know they are using material that has been diverted or collected from oceans and rivers around the world, as near as Alaska and Haiti and as far as the Philippines and India.
The Oceanworks Impac+ program helps companies to shift from virgin plastic to recycled plastics, enabling them to reach their sustainability goals while attracting consumers who buy products that align with their values and desire to reduce their own environmental footprint.
To date, RSP has worked with more than 40 such companies, using upwards of 80,000 metric tons of recycled plastic that have been diverted from waterways worldwide. According to RSP’s CEO, Mike Ryan, that impact is “roughly 140,000 metric tons of CO2e [carbon dioxide equivalent] diverted from the atmosphere, which is equivalent to 15,753 gallons of
gasoline, or the carbon sequestered by 120 acres of trees over one year.”
Having spent more than five years researching and testing the behavior of virgin plastic versus recycled material – three of those years on recycled marine plastic – RSP makes the shift seamless for its customers. Says Ryan, “We have learned a lot about how to fabricate these materials. We have probably worked with more of these materials on more projects than any other contract manufacturer in the world. RSP saves our customers time and effort by minimizing the learning curve to switch to recycled plastic.”
In terms of customer feedback, the response has been positive. Ryan says, “Our clients are very excited about using recycled marine materials in their sustainability initiatives. Many are surprised to learn that we offer injection molding, blow molding and extruded marine materials. Some are even food grade."
Ryan knows firsthand that companies opting to offset their virgin plastic footprint with recycled Oceanworks material can tell their brand story in a different way: “Our sister company, Best Bee Brothers LLC, exemplifies what can happen after transitioning from virgin plastic to recycled ocean plastic. The response to the change has been extremely positive, with customers talking about it on social media and leaving us messages, and retailers using it to help reach their corporate sustainability initiatives. It also helps us differentiate our product on retail shelves, which helped contribute to our 20% growth last year!” For RSP and its customers, the future of plastic is getting greener, one reclaimed bottle at a time.