Project Report:
Catalyzing market-based solutions for Henderson Island’s “tragic plastics” to stop marine litter at the “root cause”
- Investigates the causes of economic imbalances.
- Explores and develops market-based solutions.


The goals of this grant are as follows:
Original goal #1: Provide initial support for a 2020 return site visit to Henderson Island to complete work that was started in 2019.

Updated goal #1: Given impacts of the global pandemic, the team was unable to return to Henderson Island as planned. With approval of the Alex C. Walker Foundation, the grant goal has been changed to “conduct a site visit to Costa Rica to visit CRDC, the global up-cycler for Henderson Island tragic plastics.”

Goal #2: Support efforts related to collaborations around “circular economy” solutions, including a solution for the plastic waste collected from Henderson Island.

Goal #3: Advance public speaking engagements related to Henderson Island.


Description of Goals #1 and #2
Howell Conservation Fund (HCF) is excited to provide this final grant report as of July 2022. We never imagined that a grant issued in December 2019 would turn into a multi-year effort, given global impacts of the pandemic. While we could not have predicted the pandemic, HCF pivoted and found creative ways to still deliver on grant goals and Walker Foundation purposes.

ORIGINAL GOAL #1: A return trip to Henderson Island in 2020.

This return trip did not happen due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Given COVID-19, the 2020 expedition to Henderson Island was put on hold, as all passenger services to Pitcairn Island were suspended. Early stage efforts are underway to plan a return expedition to Henderson Island as early as 2023. This return trip is much needed; a recent article from Stuff, the global media partner of the 2019 expedition, came out in July 2022, and reflects the current state of plastics on Henderson Island ( These findings illustrate the need for both upstream and downstream solutions to solve global plastic pollution. HCF looks forward to continuing our work with Walker Foundation on this goal once a return expedition to Henderson Island becomes feasible.

NEW GOAL #1 & GOAL #2: Collaborations with project partners and a Costa Rica site visit to the CRDC Global facility.

HCF has continued to build our relationship with the Center for Regenerative Design and Collaboration (CRDC) GLOBAL (, the group we found in 2019 to process the plastics we collected on Henderson Island. CRDC’s technology takes plastic and up-cycles it into an environmentally benign, synthetic, coarse sand aggregate called RESIN8. CRDC aligns with the Walker Foundation’s purposes #1 and #4, which are, respectively, to investigate the causes of economic imbalances, and to explore and develop market-based solutions to environmental issues. CRDC takes plastic that would have otherwise been waste, and makes it into economically viable materials. The organization does this while using a market-based approach that adds value to previously unusable materials.

Outputs from Goals #1 and #2

Since Walker Foundation issued the original grant in 2019, HCF has achieved the following outputs with CRDC GLOBAL:
1. Formalized a multi-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to create a strategic alliance between HCF and CRDC Global (MOU currently goes until 12/31/2026).
2. HCF has become a fiscal sponsor of CRDC Global, which allows CRDC Global to use HCF's non-profit status for a new project, The Bag that Builds (TBTB). Through this fiscal sponsorship approach, HCF and CRDC Global launched a project in 2022 with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Samoa. This program is aimed at implementing an educational program and a circular waste management strategy using TBTB, which will divert plastics from landfills and up-cycle them into value-added products. The United Nations is also looking at scaling TBTB globally.
3. In June 2022, HCF traveled to Costa Rica for a site visit with CRDC as part of their effort to scale up their Costa Rica operations. Details about the site visit can be found in a recent HCF blog post, which can be found here :

Since 2019, HCF also has built collaborations around circular economy solutions for the plastic waste from Henderson Island with the following organizations:

• Ocean Plastics Leadership Network (OPLN), a global organization working to develop ann international plastic treaty. OPLN works with groups from all levels of the plastic supply chain, from producers to advocacy groups, including those opposed to plastic.
• The Explorers Club, the world’s preeminent exploration group. HCF has received multiple awards from the Explorers Club as a result of our Henderson Island work. We also have developed new collaborations with other members that will serve us well in the years to come as we carry out future global plastic pollution expeditions.
• Blackstone Ranch Institute, an organization that seeds collaboration and innovation in environmental sustainability.

Description of Goal #3
Public speaking engagements tied to Henderson Island. These ranged from virtual (due to the pandemic) to in-person presentations with governments, companies, philanthropists, investors, students, entrepreneurs, and explorers, among others.

Outputs of Goal #3

2020 Speaking Engagements:
• City of Atlanta: HCF presented to the Green Infrastructure Task Force about Henderson Island and trash trap technologies in Atlanta.
• Exponent Philanthropy: HCF hosted a discussion about how to apply venture philanthropy to environmental issues, using the Henderson Island expedition as a key example.
• Harvard Business School: HCF was part of a panel about environmental entrepreneurship and sustainability, using Henderson Island as an example.
• Park Pride: HCF presented “Litter Hotspots – From Our Atlanta Parks to the World’s Most Plastic Polluted Beach.”

2021 Speaking Engagements:
• Georgia Tech: HCF was a guest speaker at an engineering design class, where we focused on the importance of end of life thinking, using the Henderson Island situation as an example.
• Clubhouse: HCF was part of a Clubhouse panel on sustainable packaging, using Henderson Island as a key example about why we need circular economy solutions.
• Coca-Cola: As part of International Coastal Cleanup Day, HCF wrote a thought piece that was shared internally across Coca-Cola and with key Coca-Cola bottlers and suppliers, about why Coke is especially responsible for addressing plastic pollution and what the company can do about it, sharing key examples from the Henderson Island expedition, including stories about Coca-Cola specific pollution found on the island.

2022 Speaking Engagements:
• Explorers Club: HCF spoke at New York City Explorers Club headquarters on Earth Day, sharing about the Henderson Island Plastic Pollution Expedition and the follow-up work that we have catalyzed as a result.
• Exponent Philanthropy: 1). HCF again hosted a discussion about how to apply venture philanthropy to environmental issues, using the Henderson Island expedition as a key example. 2). Because of HCF’s approach, we are now part of the Catalytic Philanthropy group at Exponent Philanthropy. During the kickoff of this group, we shared the story of Henderson Island as an example of the breakthrough impact that can be achieved with targeted grants focused on plastic pollution. 3). HCF will be speaking at Exponent Philanthropy’s annual conference, focusing on how to make catalytic seed funding grants, using Henderson Island as a key story about the kind of impact that can be achieved.


#1: Investigate the causes of economic imbalances – the project focuses on the economic imbalance of “externalities” from plastic production and unaccounted for impacts on ecosystem services in the oceans.

#4: Explore and develop market-based solutions – the project is heavily focused on market-based solutions for plastics, including ways that ocean plastic pollution cleanups can become self-sustaining, rather than relying on philanthropic dollars to cover the “externalities” of pollution cleanup.


Project activities will take place in the U.S. and internationally and will work to be a pilot study/demonstration related to solutions for ocean plastic pollution.

Information Dissemination

Regular progress updates will be provided through the Walker Foundation website, providing details about progress against the project goals.

Project Link

Amount Approved
$15,000.00 on 12/9/2019 (Check sent: 12/17/2019)

  Related Organizations
Howell Conservation Fund  

Henderson Island summer 2019
Bags for conversion to RESIN8.jpeg
Costa Rica river cleanup with CRDC.jpg
CRDC ribbon cutting .jpg
Kids with RESIN8.jpg
River cleanup team Costa Rica.jpg
Step 1.JPG
Step 2.jpg
Step 3.jpg
Step 4.jpg
Step 5.jpg

1201 W Peachtree St NW Ste 2625, PMB 23298
Atlanta, GA 30309

(310) 944-0757 ext 0757


Brett W Howell
Executive Director, Howell Conservation Fund, Inc.

Posted 12/1/2019 1:10 PM
Updated   7/27/2022 12:22 PM

  • Nonprofit

Henderson Island summer 2019
Henderson Island beach, summer 2019

© 2024 Alex C. Walker Foundation