DNV GL releases first ever traceability standard for reclaimed plastic from the hydrosphere

The public DNV GL standard provides a best practice to verify the authenticity (Chain of Custody) of abandoned ocean and river plastic and build consumer trust in new products made from reclaimed plastic.

The problem of ocean plastic garbage is massive and to solve it requires ground-breaking technology and significant resources.  Moreover, extracting the plastic from oceans and rivers is only the first step in addressing one of the biggest threats to our world’s waters. There are currently trillions of pieces of plastic in our oceans with an estimated 8 million pieces added every day.  The scale needed requires a shift from a linear to a circular plastic future. 

“Using the abandoned plastic into new products is essential. By turning trash into something valuable, that consumers are willing to pay for, enables a circular business models that not only resolves the problem of how to dispose of the trash,” says Nicola Privato, Global Operations and Technical Director, DNV GL - Business Assurance. “As customers are eager to buy such products and companies, even big brands, are willing to contribute, the proceeds from the sales can be used to further fund the cleanup. However, for people to pay for the products, they need assurance of authenticity - that this plastic is really coming from the ocean.” 

A product or company’s sustainability efforts and performance, even if considerable, can be completely secret or difficult to share with consumers in a trusted way. Moreover, there may be a need to distinguish against wrongful claims of authenticity or share of reclaimed plastic in products. To address this problem and build confidence into the circular ocean plastic economy, The Ocean Cleanup connected with DNV GL. 

“To give our supporters added trust that our products are indeed made of plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, we knew we needed support from a reputable, independent, third party - which is why we sought out DNV GL, as a leading verification body. With their newly established standard, we hope this gives supporters greater confidence in The Ocean Cleanup products, which are soon to be unveiled,” says Leonardo Avezzano, Head of Valorization at The Ocean Cleanup. 

The DNV GL standard is the first of its kind, guaranteeing the authenticity, origin and amount of reclaimed plastic in a product. This kind of traceability and transparency must be built from the start of the value chain, requiring an end-to-end verification process from extraction offshore to the onshore landing, transportation, manufacturing and sales.  

While The Ocean Cleanup was the first to apply the best practices, the standard is public and available to any organization for application and certification.  Any organization wanting to have its plastic certified must first understand the standard’s requirements and implement compliant processes along the entire value chain or parts thereof.  The verification process ensures full traceability of collected abandoned plastic allowing consumers themselves to check authenticity when buying the product.

Photo: The Ocean Cleanup