Human health is inextricably linked to the health of the oceans. Oceans produce over half the world’s oxygen, cover 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, and serve as the primary source of food for more than 2.6 billion people. Yet, despite our dependence on the oceans for survival, nearly eight million metric tons of plastic waste (roughly the equivalent of five bags of trash on every square foot of coastline) enters the world’s oceans every year.
To combat the critical threat posed by marine plastic pollution, American Express has partnered with Parley for the Oceans’ global network on projects designed to eliminate plastic waste.
“At American Express we are committed to backing our customers, colleagues, communities, and what they care about most,” says Doug Buckminster, American Express Group President, Global Consumer Services. “That’s why we are taking action to help preserve the fragile and essential ocean ecosystem and doing our part to care for the oceans that we all share.”
Adds Parley for the Oceans founder, Cyrill Gutsch, “The oceans give us life, we give them plastic. Every second breath we take is generated by the oceans, yet we are destroying them, and ourselves, at an unprecedented rate. They make it possible for us to live here. It is our responsibility to protect them — and it’s a survival imperative.”
As part of its partnership with Parley, American Express is evolving its operations to embody the Parley AIR Strategy (Avoid. Intercept. Redesign) towards plastics. American Express recently replaced single-use plastics with reusable or compostable packaging and utensils in all its cafeteria operations in the United States and removed single-use plastic in its Centurion® Lounges globally. The company is also introducing the first American Express Card recycling program and committed to pursue zero waste certification for its New York City headquarters.
In addition, American Express has contributed nearly $2 million in grant funding to Ocean Conservancy and National Geographic Society to support coastal cleanups and environmental education and leadership programs.
“It is estimated that plastic kills as many as one million sea creatures annually,” Buckminster adds. “As a large corporation with global presence, we can use the power of our brand to raise awareness and shed light on this important issue of marine plastic pollution.”
American Express will kick off its commitment to protect the oceans through redesigning its products with a new version of the company’s iconic American Express Green Consumer and Corporate Cards, which will be available to consumers later this year. Made primarily with Ocean Plastic® — which Parley produces using shredded and upcycled plastic debris collected from beaches and coastal communities — the new Cards will be an industry-first made primarily with Ocean Plastic® by Parley.
“Ocean Plastic® allowed us to put marine plastic pollution in the global spotlight,” says Gutsch, adding that Parley sees the key to ending marine plastic pollution not in recycling, but in the redesign and replacement of harmful materials, methods, and thinking.
In addition to implementing the Parley AIR strategy into its operations, American Express has taken other steps towards improving its environmental footprint. In 2018, for example, American Express became a CarbonNeutral® company, powered by 100 percent renewable energy, and American Express colleagues worldwide participated in annual company-sponsored river and ocean cleanups.
“A major component of the American Express effort to prevent plastics from entering the oceans is encouraging global Card Members, colleagues, and partners to take part in the movement,” Buckminster says.
That’s why now, in collaboration with Parley for the Oceans, American Express hopes to build even wider awareness of the threat of marine plastic pollution through its #BackOurOceans social media campaign.
“We’ve been inspired by all of the innovative work Parley has done to rally brands and consumers to change their behavior and reduce their daily use of plastic,” Buckminster adds. “As part of our mission to combat marine plastic pollution, we are launching our #BackOurOceans campaign on Instagram to inspire our Card Members, consumers, and partners to help us in our efforts to clean up our beaches together in partnership with Parley.”
Want to get involved? One easy step is to head to @AmericanExpress or @Parley.tv Instagram page to help #BackOurOceans. In the comments of the #BackOurOceans post, explain why you #BackOurOceans or tag friends who you want to get involved. For every comment made from 9/16-9/23, @AmericanExpress will partner with @Parley.tv to remove 2 lbs of plastic from beaches and coasts, up to 1 million lbs.
Go to amex.co/BackOurOceans to learn more about what American Express is doing to address marine plastic pollution and to discover how you can get involved.