‘We need to keep plastics in our economy – but out of the oceans’

Updated: Oct 28, 2018

Ethical Corporation


By Angeli Mehta


Angeli Mehta interviews Lonely Whale’s Dune Ives about how the NGO is working with Dell and other corporate partners in the NextWave initiative to help companies incorporate plastic waste in supply chains


The rising tide of plastic waste is not only littering our ocean: its damaging impacts include carrying contaminants and bacteria that harm marine organisms such as coral. How can we stop any more fouling the water?


Seattle-based Lonely Whale is an NGO that is helping companies take positive action to address that challenge by incorporating plastic waste in their products. Its supply chain initiative NextWave “is trying to create new demand for a greater collection of materials – what we call additionality”, explains executive director Dune Ives.


Lonely Whale does not focus on recovering plastics that wash up on ocean beaches. This is technically challenging, as Procter & Gamble found out when it developed shampoo and washing-up liquid bottles that use ocean plastics. (See P&G sends recycling message to consumers with ocean plastics bottles)

What are the plastics we use today that could be replaced? Can we be more creative about collecting and integrating them

The NGO instead targets plastic waste that is found around waterways and is likely to end up in the ocean.


Two years ago, it began working with computer maker Dell to use ocean-bound plastics in its packaging. Now the two are creating an industry consortium to develop a supply chain that will keep plastics in the economy, and out of the water.


Lonely Whale is managing the connections and interface with suppliers; it will liaise with governments and pull in scientists and other NGOs. Each company that signs up to NextWave also commits to reduce and eliminate unnecessary plastics in its own business – even if it’s just balloons and straws.


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