American Express Malaysia Continues The Fight With Ocean Plastic. Are You With Us?

According to a recent United Nations report, 80% of all ocean pollution comes from people on land, and over eight million tons of plastic ends up in oceans each year. This waste costs the lives of one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and causes USD$8 billion in damage to marine ecosystems annually.

Other studies have estimated that at least five trillion pieces of plastic are floating in the world’s oceans, and while a majority of this plastic debris sinks or washes ashore, much of it is floating in five gigantic, slow-moving whirlpools nicknamed Vortexes. The World Economic Forum projects that there will be more plastic than fish by weight in the oceans by 2050 if the current trends continue.

In 2018, American Express partnered with Ocean Conservancy to tackle one of the world’s most pressing issues – reducing marine plastic pollution and protecting our oceans. Through our company’s commitments to reduce plastic use globally, and introduction of the first card made from recovered plastic in partnership with Parley, colleagues around the world, are helping to make a meaningful difference in the health of our oceans together with local non-profit organizations. And American Express Malaysia has joined this fight.

In April 2018, colleagues in American Express Malaysia kicked off their efforts with a mangrove conservation initiative at the Kuala Selangor Nature Park, planting 170 mangrove trees. 112 volunteers then travelled to the island of Tioman for a clean-up dive, clearing over 200kg of trash from both the beach and the ocean. This was followed by an activity in Cherating, where #teamAMEX Malaysia turned our focus to protecting our turtle population, releasing 221 turtle hatchlings and supporting 25 turtle nests in addition to removing over 85 bags of trash off the beach. In November 2018, the team removed over 300kg of trash during a 1km beach cleanup drive, leaving behind a beach that was cleaner than when they arrived at Pangkor Island.

“As we went to release the turtle hatchings, it was a very moving experience as we know only 1 in 10,000 of these endangered species will survive and return as a breeding adult” – Dinesh Pillay – American Express Global Servicing Specialist and volunteer.

On 12 th April 2019, the team organized a ‘Reef Rescue’ initiative with 141 employees volunteering to help restore the coral reef ecosystem around one of Malaysia’s most beautiful islands, Perhentian Island in Terengganu that was under threat from increased marine pollution. In partnership with local NGOs and dive centers, the American Express volunteers built 53 blocks of reef made out of recycled bottles that overtime will be maintained and protected for coral growth. These reef blocks comprise of 5-6 glass bottles planted in a 0.33m x 0.22m x 0.15m mold, filled with concrete, and left for 24 hours to set and harden. A team of divers from American Express took to the waters to carefully place these blocks and fastened naturally broken coral fragments to these structures for them to attach and begin the growth cycle. This will be the starting point of an artificial reef consisting of bottle reef blocks, coral pyramids and nurseries that will stretch from the village’s South Beach to Petani Beach, and will hopefully be the beginning of many more such conservation drives around these islands.

While on land, other American Express volunteers, removed more than 200 kg of trash in one afternoon. This is only the beginning of the journey with several key initiatives planned for the rest of 2019. Each initiative is targeted at a specific cause with the aim of leaving behind a sustainable change to ensure these ecosystems continue to thrive – a mission that has brought colleagues of American Express Malaysia together to serve a greater purpose with pride and commitment.

“American Express cares about communities we operate in and this is embedded in our company values. Preserving our environment and driving positive business outcomes are no longer separable. We will only be successful when our communities we operate in including our environment thrives.” – Ryan Lai –General Manager American Express Malaysia and volunteer.