Blockchain has the potential to transform recycling behaviour.
Improper waste management has put plastic in our oceans and has endangered several species of marine life. Failed attempts at penalizing polluters and recycling-at-source have put us at more risk than ever before. However, companies are now trying to use blockchain for recycling to effectively carry out recycling campaigns and reduce waste flowing into oceans.
The amount of waste the world generates is rising daily. Cities alone produce about 1.3 billion tons of waste every year. The worldwide waste generation rates are about to reach 2.2 billion tons by as early as 2025. Apart from the mounting waste, the expenses to manage the waste are also projected to reach $375 billion in 2025 from $205 billion in 2015. This is more of a concern because the most severe cost implications are anticipated in developing countries where waste segregation is practiced restrictively. Blockchain for recycling remains an effective way to reduce waste, but even with such awareness about its benefits, recycling projects are not a significant success.
Recycling requires a lot of volunteer participation from the public. From segregation at the source to segregation at landfills, recycling involves the workforce. However, there is not enough incentive to work for recycling projects, apart from the satisfaction of reducing waste that endangers our ecosystem. Sadly, because of lack of incentives, many of these projects run off the track and fail to make a difference. Even workers who manually segregate waste at landfills are not paid well in developing countries due to corruption. We need to attach more value to the waste so that recycling is incentivized enough for people to take these projects seriously.
Blockchain is transforming our transactions by offering us safety, reliability, and control over our assets. But what does blockchain have in store for waste management? As discussed earlier, the fact that waste is undervalued drives most recycling projects off-road. We have seen the potential of blockchain in escalating the value of digital cryptocurrencies. Can blockchain do the same for waste? Efforts are going on to associate crypto-tokens to waste that can be credited to wallets of recyclers upon successful recycling. Every recycling activity will be registered on a blockchain, making the process transparent and secure. Workers can accumulate these tokens digitally (which is possible because of increasing mobile and internet penetration) and can exchange tokens for other cryptocurrencies or local currencies. This way they get the complete value for the waste they recycle because of elimination of intermediaries who take their unreasonable cuts. For the masses too, waste segregation at the source can translate to tokens using specific applications.
The way ahead is interesting. Tech industry leader IBM has come up with Plastic Bank to incentivize plastic recycling. Besides, another blockchain development company has announced RecycleToCoin to tackle hurdles in the recycling of plastic waste and aluminum cans. With blockchain on the deck, recycling projects will also get better funds to operate – thanks to the current hype around blockchain. Summing it up, the concept of blockchain for recycling is good for everyone – the workers, the masses, the companies, and our good old Earth.
Naveen is the Founder and CEO of Allerin, a software solutions provider that delivers innovative and agile solutions that enable to automate, inspire and impress. He is a seasoned professional with more than 20 years of experience, with extensive experience in customizing open source products for cost optimizations of large scale IT deployment. He is currently working on Internet of Things solutions with Big Data Analytics. Naveen completed his programming qualifications in various Indian institutes.