As we proved with our first installment in this blog series, PLASTICS’ Clean Up Champions initiative is revealing champions already in our midst. Today, we’re introducing you to another champion, one of the world’s largest plastics producers and leading producer of renewable plastics and chemicals focused on creating sustainable solutions—Braskem.
“Braskem is excited about being a PLASTICS Clean Up Champion because we recognize the importance of eliminating plastic waste from the natural environment,” said Brittany Darras, a Senior Sustainability Manager at Braskem and manager of the company’s Global Volunteer Program for U.S. team members.
Consistency is key
Braskem’s boots-on-the-ground volunteer efforts are impressive. Clean ups are something they do often in all areas where they operate. The 2023 events Braskem has participated in so far include their first project under the PLASTICS Clean Up Champions banner—a March 31 event at East End Lagoon Nature Preserve and the surrounding area in Galveston, Texas. This was done in partnership with the Galveston Bay Foundation, an organization Braskem has worked with for several years.
Scenes from Braskem’s clean up event in Galveston, Texas; the crew filled 12 trash bags for a total of 270 lbs. of trash.
Planning pays off
Braskem is a strong proponent of the Clean Up Champions model of finding partner groups who can steer them toward opportunities and provide support for individual initiatives. This year, they’ve also worked with San Antonio Bay Partnership at the Guadalupe Delta Wildlife Management Area near Braskem’s Seadrift, Texas operation. Later in May, Braskem will once again partner with the Pittsburgh Park Conservancy, helping to clean a section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s Sheraden Park.
Toward the end of May, Braskem will partner with Fairmount Park Conservancy again on cleaning up a section of the Strawberry Mansion area of Philadelphia and helping to rehab a community garden. Braskem is also conducting another “Ohio River Sweep” starting at Virginia Point Park in Kenova, West Virginia in mid-June. “We seek to create and facilitate opportunities for our team members to volunteer their time and talent with local communities and NGOs,” said Darras. “Helping to clean up natural spaces where community members, including our very own team members, live and work is very important to us.”
Developing a point of view
Clean up events are just part of a very broad partnership strategy at Braskem. The company also partners with environmental NGOs and/or local government for 360-degree education opportunities in which Braskem team members educate the NGO on the action the company is taking to eliminate plastic waste and the NGO educates Braskem on local waste issues. This could include infrastructure, program, education, and/or engagement challenges.
According to Brittany Darras, Braskem uses these dialogues to explore a larger role in supporting local communities seeking to resolve plastic waste issues. “For example,” she said, “in 2022 we funded a new recycling drop-off center in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, where we operate one of our polypropylene plants. This opportunity came after dialogue with local government in trying to understand how we could support household recycling.”
Keeping an eye on the future
To state the obvious, Braskem has a wide-ranging approach to addressing plastic waste challenges—one that also includes expanding their recycled product portfolio and recovering plastic waste through direct and indirect Braskem-initiated actions. “We know that clean ups won’t solve the problem alone,” said Darras. “But we are committed to helping remove plastic waste from the environment while also making investments and forging partnerships to develop the recycling system so that we can create a more circular economy for plastics.”