The application of blockchain to waste recycling

Can the blockchain be the key tool to save the environment?

24 August 2022


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BLOCKCHAIN ENVIRONMENT - In a context where waste management has reached critical situations, new technologies must be used to create change. The blockchain has emerged as a solution to trace and make data unchangeable and unalterable, and to enforce policies, monitor funds and donations, providing an efficient and transparent reward system.

The problem of waste

Every year 3.5 trillion plastic products are put on the market, which contribute to environmental pollution: in fact, almost 2.2 billion tons of plastic ends up in the world’s rivers and seas! Just think that 90.5% of the plastic produced has never been recycled, and it is estimated that by 2050 the world will have around 12 billion tonnes of plastic waste.

Without clear visibility and traceability of plastic production and recycling it is, and will be, impossible to control pollution not only on an international scale, but also simply on a local scale. Traceability and accountability policies and procedures are therefore needed to create awareness among the population, both of the situation and of the progress made.

The application of blockchain to waste recycling

Globally, 1.3 billion tonnes of waste is produced annually and is expected to continue to increase.

Unfortunately, at the moment only developed countries have developed recycling policies. While the rest of the world unfortunately has inadequate systems, or chooses the path of indifference or starvation and avoids making decisions in that direction.

In order to encourage recycling by using blockchain, models and initiatives can be developed that through the tracking of “recycle” reward participants, thus giving a tangible value to the plastic material and/or recycling activity.

The ability to implement these initiatives, especially in countries with deep socio-economic inequalities, could provide a strong incentive to recycle waste through a reliable and easily accessible means of income.

However, one should never lower one’s guard: the environment (like many other non-profit initiatives) is often used as a breeding ground for fraud, often using funds illegally. The blockchain ensures transparency for donors through the correct use of funds.

Can the blockchain be the key tool in the fight to save the environment?

The ability to track waste and the transparent management of all processes, from financing to waste logistics, and the way in which waste is disposed of and recycled, is one of the main ways to bring about a cultural change towards more environmentally friendly societies around the world. As we have just seen, the use of blockchain technology can be cross-cutting, from tracking waste disposal habits, promoting recycling practices with reward systems, to creating plastic identification. The goal is to implement local and global initiatives that together can make a difference. New technologies deliver on promises in the environmental sector, but they must be accompanied by consumer behaviour and changes in the economic business model.

Litterati example 

Litterati is an application that allows the user to share geolocalized images of waste. In addition, through labelling describing what kind of waste they are, their artificial intelligence system continues to be implemented. Although there is no reward system, users can invite or challenge others. It is an interactive way to motivate collaboration and help keep the neighbourhood, street, school or city clean. Reportedly, the use of the app has caused public institutions to move from plastic to paper packaging.

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