In this episode of Executive with a Cause, host Tammy Ven Dange chats with Ricki Hersburgh, Executive Director of Plastic Oceans Australasia.

Fuelled by data, research and their resulting facts, Ricki Hersburgh is on a mission to drive behavioural change in plastic use.

With an in-house Technical Advisory Panel and public education team, Plastic Oceans Australasia has been able to pair research with delivery. In this episode, we discuss how they focus on understanding the drivers of consumer behaviour, so they can effectively intervene and reduce the use of plastics. We also discuss the value of collaboration between organisations and how this can effectively fill capability and knowledge gaps when resources are limited.

As a scientifically based organisation, data collection and its use are also highlighted to understand the ‘what and why?’ in analysing plastic pollution and contribute to the ‘how’ in addressing the problem. Furthermore, we hear how Ricki attracts volunteers for their Technical Advisory Panel and how leaders should follow the ‘what’s in it for them?’ principle to help retain volunteers.

Finally, you can get involved in the cause with ‘Picnics Unwrapped’ – an initiative to host a plastic-free picnic and raise funds in September. Or do you have a great story on tackling a plastic-related problem? Entries are now open for the Oceans in Motion film festival, with categories available for primary to tertiary-aged students and members of the boating community in Australia or New Zealand.

Thank you for listening to the Executive with a Cause podcast. Don’t forget to follow us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.

IT in Plain English

Single sign-on (SSO) can improve both user experience and IT security by reducing the number of passwords to manage. In this week’s segment, Tammy discusses where you may have utilised this feature and how you can implement it for your organisation.

Sign-up here to subscribe to the “Executive with a Cause” newsletter. You can submit your question to Tammy Ven Dange by messaging her on LinkedIn, and maybe she’ll answer it on the show.

Topics from this episode:

  • 00 | Introduction
  • 09 | The origins of Plastic Oceans Australasia
  • 28 | The mission
  • 40 | Utilising data for research
  • 55 | Recruiting the Technical Advisor Panel
  • 08 | Data teams
  • 40 | Behavioural changes
  • 30 | Funding
  • 30 | Collaboration
  • 46 | Getting involved
  • 46 | IT in Plain English

Quotes from Ricki in this episode:

“The global alliance we have is with Plastic Oceans UK (now Ocean Regeneration), Plastic Oceans Spain and us here in Australasia. So our reach here is obviously Australia and New Zealand and some of the islands. But there’s a bit of a grey zone, we get enquiries from India and other areas as well, but pretty much our focus is this area of the world.”

“Setting up a charity is complicated; there’s a lot of hurdles and jumps, and you need a really good lawyer and accountant to get it squeaky clean before you even start doing anything.”

“Our mission and vision is to change the world’s attitude towards plastic use, particularly single-use plastic, within a generation. And we do that through a lot of behavioural change. We do a lot of education; we also talk to businesses about what they can do, lifecycle assessments, supply chain, and the circular economy.”

“So we have three streams. The education arm, the business sustainability arm and then everything that we do is underpinned by our science and research.”

“We are very much about facts, not fiction. We’re not storytellers. We tell the stories from the facts, but we won’t say something that is based off an assumption.”

“We went to people who we felt had a passion and interest in what we were doing. It was basically matching. It’s like a puzzle, finding the right piece of the puzzle, checking who’s out there.”

“I always say to people, research, research, research. Find your facts, check them. Work out what you think the hot button is for that person, as everyone is so busy. So to get people to give a few hours extra a month, it’s got to be something they really want to do. So that’s how we get them on board.”

“We always say we want people to get more out of it than we get from them because otherwise, why should they do it? It’s the ‘what’s in it for them’ consideration; otherwise, they won’t stay.”

“We have the traditional donation method, as well as offering fee-for-service, where we provide education for a fee, and we do sponsorships.”

Links & Resources

Other Episodes Mentioned in this Show


Thanks to our Producer, Nick Whatman, and the entire team at Lonsdale St. Studio. Thanks also to our Digital Content Creator, Laura Kleinrahm.

Tammy Ven Dange is a former charity CEO, Not for Profit Board Member and IT Executive. Today she helps NFPs with strategic IT decisions with her business, Roundbox Consulting.


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