Starbucks partners in Amsterdam join up with charity to clean up city’s iconic canals

“I never approach people, I just let things happen”, says Marius Smith, founder of Plastic Whale. Plastic Whale is the world’s first professional plastic fishing company. Six years ago, Marius started with a single challenge: to build a boat made of plastic waste. He did not know anything about plastics and building boats but didn’t let this stand in his way, instead remaining driven by his goals to make the world’s waters plastic-free as well as creating a value from plastic.

As he began talking with people about his idea, he was contacted by Starbucks marketing manager, Rogier van Duivenbooden who’d heard about his work and immediately wanted to support the project. Starbucks takes pride in working with local communities and helping the environment and it became clear Marius’ project was one that fits these values.

Five years ago 90 Starbucks partners (employees) became his very first group to go plastic fishing in the canals of Amsterdam. Their enthusiastic and supportive contribution has triggered a business model that has since seen Marius’ idea take off. Since then, over 140 companies have joined Starbucks in fishing for plastic and it is hoped this will continue to grow. Marius has now built a fleet of eight design boats made from Amsterdam Canal Plastic. 

Rogier van Duivenbooden comments: “Last year our team of partners also spent a day cleaning a stretch of beach close to the Starbucks Amsterdam office and we were all shocked with the amount of rubbish we collected. We all felt we needed to do more. When I first connected with Marius all our ambitions came together through his initiative: creating awareness for a problem that is threatening the planet, improving the conditions in the city we work and live and purposefully recycling plastic waste. We planned how we could make it work and a couple of weeks later we were back fishing for plastic for the second time!”