Statement concerning false accusations made against ReSea Project.
This statement was first published on October 1.
Last updated and edited on October 21, 2021, with latest conclusions.
To overcome the environmental issues facing the planet, we need to work together. We show appreciation for the other players out there, with solutions and different approaches to tackle plastic pollution and protect our oceans. We are saddened by the actions of the company RIO – Restoring Integrity to the oceans (RIO), which we can only describe as competitive and hostile intent, as they are deliberately attempting to harm ReSea Project by spreading false and undocumented accusations. Both a thorough internal investigation and an impartial audit by a third party have concluded there is no justification for any of the accusations made and show that all our procedures are fully compliant.
ReSea Project is recovering plastic waste from oceans and rivers and improve living conditions for our local cleanup team in Indonesia. Once the plastic is recovered, it is sorted, put into sacks, tagged, weighed, documented, and delivered to waste banks who manage the plastic. Our community-driven cleanup solution currently involves approximately 50 people in Indonesia, many of them local fishermen who have recovered more than 850,000 kg of plastic so far in 2021.
The accusations in brief
The accusing company RIO makes the following allegations against ReSea Project and our local waste bank partners in Indonesia:
They accuse ReSea Project of dumping waste on illegal dumpsites, which the company RIO claims to have found.
They claim that plastic sacks can’t weigh more than 6-7 kg.
They accuse ReSea Project of deliberately contaminating the recovered plastic with oil and adding objects such as stones, rocks or netting to make the sacks of plastic heavier.
We reject these accusations outright.
Transparency and traceability are key for our operations, as they play a vital part in furthering our mission and our activities against the ocean plastic crisis. That is why we have outlined all our findings and conclusions from both our internal and the impartial external investigations below, to show that all allegations are baseless, and to underpin that all our processes are compliant.
Our response to the accusations
The character of these allegations is most critical and therefore potentially harmful to our local collectors, local partners in Jakarta, our partners worldwide, and the reputation of ReSea Project. We take accusations like these very seriously, regardless of whether they are justified or not. Although we provide the highest level of traceability within the scope of our certification, by monitoring our operations and having our collection data validated, we do not dispute that it is possible for human errors to be made within our supply chain. ReSea Project is still a small purpose-driven company, working every day to develop and strengthen our solution and to have a positive impact for people and the planet. We are fully committed to identifying any possible mistakes occurring within our supply chain, and immediately take the necessary precautions to ensure our compliance and to take appropriate measures to optimize our processes going forward.
As such, we feel we must respond in a transparent and proactive manner to ensure that our surroundings, our partners, and our employees who are part of our cleanup efforts have absolute certainty that these accusations are baseless misdirection intended to harm the reputation of our company.
When we became aware of these allegations, on the 11th of September 2021, we immediately took action to determine the validity of these allegations:
We started an internal investigation.
We sent a management team from Denmark to the site in Indonesia, to support our local management team in Jakarta with their investigation.
To understand the findings of the external and internal investigations, the full conclusion concerning the accusations is listed below:
Third-party Independent Certification Process
ReSea Project was awarded DNV certification for plastic collected in the hydrosphere on February 16, 2021. DNV is one of the world’s leading certification bodies, helping businesses assure the performance of their organizations, products, people, facilities and supply chains. DNV prides itself as an independent, trusted voice in tackling global transformations.
The scope of the certification awarded by DNV includes assurance of the entire plastic collection process against predefined standards from water to delivery at the waste bank and verification of the weight of the sacks with recovered plastic at the waste bank. The verification is conducted through sampling and the use of an advance blockchain platform that continuously collates evidence including but not limited to photos, videos and registrations in respect of the plastic collected.
DNV was made aware of the accusations levelled against ReSea Project as soon as we became aware of them. DNV conducted an investigation, including a semi-announced audit, in order to satisfy itself that none of the claims made by the accuser affected the validity of the certification awarded and to reassure itself that ReSea Project continues to meet the relevant standards. DNV issued its conclusion to ReSea Project on October 14, 2021 confirming that it had concluded the certification for plastic collected in the hydrosphere remained valid and the alleged accusations made by RIO had not been substantiated in this regard. DNV’s report is available on request.
Internal investigation of accusations
When we became aware of the allegations, we launched an internal investigation to track the accusations and perform sample checks of the recovered plastic waste in our storage facilities, to ensure compliance according to our collection data and the content of the bags. As our third-party certification and traceability systems allow us to trace all the plastic we recover from oceans and rivers, we were able to identify the exact plastic batches shown by the accusing company RIO. In an immediate response, we chose to temporarily suspend the local waste bank who handled this batch of plastic for the duration of the investigation.
Our traceability data showed that the batch numbers were registered by and correctly delivered to the relevant waste bank. Therefore, we conclude that the accusations concerning illegal dumping of plastic waste made against ReSea Project fall outside of the controlled and certified process and scope of work (our collection process). However, it is only in our best interest to get to the bottom of such a case and look beyond our collection process, as we are not interested in collaborating with local partners who are not handling the plastic waste according to the agreements - if this was the case.
Findings of internal investigation
No oil or heavy objects have been added to the bags. Our cleanup team recover plastic waste from areas (for example harbors) with oil spills in the waters, which explains why oil and other substances may be found on the plastic waste.
Through our inspections, sample checks and control weighing of the recovered plastic waste, we know that our sacks of plastic waste can weigh significantly more than 6-7 kgs. All inspections and sample-checks done on-site have been documented.
The plastic waste has been delivered to one of our local waste bank partners.
The waste bank we suspended, has sold the plastic waste received from ReSea Project to a local waste handler (the batches mentioned by the accusing company).
ReSea Project is in possession of documentation and evidence from the waste handler, showing that the other company has in fact purchased some of this plastic from the waste handler, which is how the plastic came into the custody of that company.
We have informed the accusing company RIO about this and especially our findings concerning point 5. They deny having purchased the plastic, even when provided with bank transcripts and correspondence that proves it. We have reached out repeatedly asking them to provide evidence of their defamatory claims. These requests have been ignored and we have not been provided with any evidence or other documentation. Neither has the company provided any substantiating documentation with their posts on social media, they are merely repeating their accusations. All attempts to address this and respond to the accusations through commenting on their posts have been immediately deleted or blocked.
Our internal investigations have shown absolutely no sign that there is any merit to their harmful accusations. Based on our internal investigation, we reject the accusations and we can state with confidence that the accusing company has purchased plastic originally collected by ReSea Project from a waste handler in Indonesia, and is claiming that they have collected this themselves, which is a very misleading claim and not in keeping with good marketing and business practices.
Our findings show there is no truth or merit to the allegations made by the accusing company RIO. After repeatedly asking the accuser to provide evidence for their accusations and offered them to collect the plastic they claim to have found on an illegal dumpsite (to give us the opportunity to analyze the material as part of our investigation into their accusations), the company remains unwilling to engage in any form of dialogue and refuses to provide any documentation for their accusations. With our clear evidence and documentation (which we are happy to make available to any of our partners) as a result of our internal and external investigation, the accusations have been shown to be nothing more than an attempt to undermine the competition, and we consider this as a matter of slander.
Since familiarizing ourselves with the accusations, we have appealed to the accusing company to cease this form of competitive behavior and to stop making their false accusations because it harms our cleanup mission, our brand, business, and the partners who support our mission of tackling the ocean plastic crisis. We are taking the necessary legal steps to prevent the accuser from causing further harm. Unfortunately, we expect the current behavior to continue for another while, through posts on social media. We are truly sorry for any inconvenience caused by this.
However, we remain dedicated to our mission and our activities against ocean plastic pollution.
CEO ReSea Project
We seek to offer full transparency about this case and our conclusions. We are happy to receive and respond to any enquiries from stakeholders and the media.
CEO, ReSea Project
Telephone: +45 23 71 64 98