Friday, June 25, 2010


This week's perspective from Joe Chidley:

Here’s an idea: instead of polluting oceans with more of our junk, why not take the junk that’s already in the oceans and recycle it? That’s the inspiration behind an innovative and ambitious marketing/PR effort by Sweden-based Electrolux Group, which this week announced plans to start scooping plastic waste up from oceans around the world and recycle it to make—appropriately enough—vacuum cleaners. According to Electrolux, who we’re assuming bases the claim on scientific evidence, the world’s oceans are plagued by so-called plastic gyres: great swirls of man-made flotsam that form thanks to ocean currents. The one in the Pacific, according to the company, is estimated to be the size of Texas. So Electolux’s plan is not only to reduce those gyres, but also to help stop the inflow of plastics that created them. Smart. And the campaign is backed up by a Facebook page, and a website that encourages people to get involved, either by sharing their stories of cleaning up or by getting involved in any number of environmental groups who want to remediate the oceanscape. I could quibble with the rather low-key execution of some of the elements (Vac from the Sea was picked up by the usual tech and green publications when it was announced), but given the worldwide focus on another environmental (and PR) disaster affecting a major body of water, the timing of Electrolux’s initiative was perfect. And there is plenty of room for it to grow in visibility as it takes shape. As the saying goes, in crisis lies opportunity—especially when it’s someone else’s crisis.

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