Meaningful Business (MB:) Please tell us a bit about your background.
David Katz (DK:) I am a compassionate entrepreneur who grew up on an island in Vancouver, witnessing the gradual decline of the oceans. Ever since, I have dedicated myself to addressing the degradation of the ocean and our planet.
MB: What led you to start Plastic Bank?
DK: When I founded Plastic Bank in 2013, I had not met anyone who was saying anything about what had to be done to save our planet. You can see how fast we are consuming the earth’s resources, and the effect this is having on oceans and marine life.
I realised the need to be regenerative – the need to create a circular economy – to make the planet better and healthier. The issue of degradation affects everyone. Witnessing the birds and whales dying, as a result of ingesting plastic, was a big inspiration for me to act. One way to do this was to address the issue of ocean plastic.
MB: What is the problem you are trying to solve?
DK: The problem we are trying to solve is poverty. Resources are being consumed because people are in need. From overfishing, to neglect and seeing the rise in ocean plastic – it is evident that people are seeking more to survive. That is why we have created a powerful model that alleviates poverty, protects the environment, and builds strong economic pathways for individuals and communities.
At Plastic Bank, we provide incentives for the poor to collect and trade in plastic, turning waste into a currency and adding a new sense of value to the material. In this way, the organisation aims to stop the flow of ocean plastic and turn it into a tool for alleviating poverty.
MB: What is your vision for the future?
DK: I see a world where the people, in another lifetime away, are aware and actively working to stop the degradation of our planet. A world where resources (metal, organics, or plastic) are returned – to become new again through a regenerative process.
MB: What is your advice to other leaders who want to combine profit and purpose?
DK: It is important to understand the concept of combining business and meaning together, because that transforms into something truly purposeful. When we connect with the infinite, serve others with a win-win and no deals approach – great things happen.
MB – What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
DK – “Every time I answer a question, I become enslaved; every time I ask a question, I set myself free”.
MB – Who inspires you?
DK – My daughter inspired me. She was self-expressed, honest and true.
MB – How do you define success?
DK – There is no definition of success. Success itself is a journey. Success is about being aware, awake, and living in the absolute now. The first step in the journey of success starts by acknowledging the fact that success lives within you.
MB – What is something you wish you were better at?
DK – I don’t wish anything. Wishing lives in the same space as not being enough. We should be drawn and invested in the art of creating, and not wishing.
MB – What is the one book everyone should read?
SA – “The 7 habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey.
MB – What do you do to relax?
SA – I play with the sea.
Discover the other MB100 leaders recognised for their work combining profit and purpose to help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in 2020, here.