Paul Kylmenko of Planet Ark

Paul Klymenko of Planet Ark:

Planet Stewardship

In this episode of Plastics Revolution, I chat with Paul Klymenko of Planet Ark

Paul started his career in finance before realising that the only way he could reduce his stress about environmental concerns was to create solutions for it. And so he did so as a co-founder and now the CEO of this environmental behaviour change organisation.

In this show, we talk about how it started, their current campaigns, issues impacting the environment right now, as well as their latest program to be announced, the National Circular Economy Hub and Marketplace.

I hope you enjoy this episode of Plastics Revolution with Paul Klymenko of Planet Ark.


Hosted by Tammy Ven Dange
Produced by Jonny Puskas
Theme Music by Joseph McDade
All Rights Reserved 2020

Topics from this episode:

  • 0.00 | Intro
  • 1.54 | About Planet Ark – what they support, not what they are against
  • 4.20 | Example of printer ink cartridges partnership with Close the Loop – 45+ million cartridges later
  • 6.25 | Working with the “devil”
  • 7.34 | First stewardship program
  • 10.21 | Who does the recycling and conversion of the resources collected?
  • 12.02 | The hardest part of creating these programs
  • 13.43 | An environmental behaviour change organisation
  • 16.50 | The carrot or the stick
  • 18.52 | How do they prioritise opportunities for impacting the environment?
  • 20.50 | Focussing on the day to day impact
  • 22.14 | Business versus consumer impact
  • 26.23 | People concerns provide ammunition for change
  • 28.49 | Impact of Covid-19 and past recessions/depressions
  • 31.21 | How to continue environmental work during these times.
  • 36.22 | More about Paul
  • 42.26 | National Circular Economy Hub and Marketplace – “I think it possibly could be the biggest achievement in Planet Ark’s history.”
  • 48.05 | How to find out more about Planet Ark.

Quotes from Paul Klymenko in this episode:

‘Most environmental organisations back then were really defining themselves by what they were against. They were protesting. They were saying these are the things we can’t do and not really focussing on solutions. And we thought, “Well, at the end of the day, there’s not much point raising problems if you don’t actually then give solutions for people...” So, we were an organisation that was going to define ourselves by what we supported, what we were for. And also, we were going to provide solutions.’

“We work with businesses. We work with the community to create the solution… And, you know, everyone plays a role – from the manufacturers by providing funding to close the loop, to allow them to collect it and also recycle it and also spend money on R&D to create even better uses for the materials that come out of the recycling process, and to allow us to educate and inspire people like yourself to actually make that effort of taking it because the rubbish bin is always the easiest bin.”

“We believe most people want to make that effort as long as you make it relatively simple for them.”

‘Referring back to 1992, saying you were going to work with business to create positive environmental change back then – it was probably the equivalent of the Pope going out to his flock or the head of the Church of England saying, “Look, we’re going to work with the devil to create this change as well.”’

“We always worked on this principle that we’re a leverage organisation. So, what we’re doing is we find all the partners. We’re a relatively small group of people. We can’t do all these things. But we learnt from the early days the skill of effective collaboration. So, finding the right people to create a system that would make it work.”

“Information is not behaviour change.”

‘It’s quite an interactive process, but we have to say, “Can we get significant environmental improvement? And is that a doable thing?” If I said, “I just created the most amazing thing, but it’s going to increase the price of that thing by a 1000%.” I’ll just go, “Nah, not ready!”’

“Now, the interesting thing is, through this great suppression of economic activity, we’ve seen all these environmental benefits. L.A. having half the air pollution. People be able to see the Himalayas from in India for the first time in 30, 40 years. Dolphins in the harbour in Venice.”

“How can we get those environmental benefits that we all want to have by changing the way we run our economy. That’s really the crucial thing. And I think that can only be done by us becoming a carbon neutral, circular economy. If we achieve that, all the environmental issues –  and I’m talking about everything from climate change to ocean plastics to toxic water and air pollution can be solved by doing that.”

“What it (Covid-19 measures) demonstrated to me is that we can move very quickly, and we need to move very quickly to solve our environmental issues, because otherwise, as someone once said to me, nature will solve it for us.”

“I see being circular is also being much more economically efficient.”

‘When people say, “What’s a circular economy?” Well, you have to actually point out what we’ve currently got, which is a linear economy, which is – extract, grow, use, put it a bin and throw it in the ground… But a circular economy is where you keep those resources. You sustainably harvest them and mine them, too. And you maximize the utility in our economy for as long as possible.’   

“How circular is the world now? There has been a couple of circular gap reports come out, and it’s less than 10 percent.”

“If you could make things relatively easy for people, you would get much higher behavioural changes than if you make it incredibly hard.”

Links & Resources

Published by

Tammy Ven Dange

IT Consultant for the Not for Profit Sector | Host of "Executive with a Cause" Podcast

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