Can a peer-to-peer, decentralized technology tackle waste management? In this article, let’s talk about it.
Table of Contents
- Overview of Blockchain Technology
- Blockchain in Waste Management
- Concluding Lines: Is Blockchain the Answer?
Overview of Blockchain Technology
Unlike most digital technologies, Blockchain can be considered as a network of virtual ledgers that are able to store and distribute data securely without involving any third-party intermediaries. This technology can be thought of as a data structure that stores information as a series of connected blocks, which are distributed simultaneously to all participants. Its applications for social good are becoming increasingly critical, and Blockchain experts believe that this disruptive technology will revolutionize the world with its impact. Technology is now starting to make a difference to the world’s global challenges such as poverty, hunger, education, access to safe water, waste management, and much more.
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Blockchain in Waste Management
In 2019, it was estimated that plastic waste was around 6.3 billion metric tonnes with a value of US$7.2 trillion. BBC news statistics reported that 90.5% of plastic ever made has never been recycled, and according to the estimations, by 2050, we will have approximately 12 billion mt of plastic waste. This high ratio is because of the fact that presently, there is no digital technology that can hold organizations, enterprises, and people accountable for the waste they’ve created and recycled.
Accountability in Waste Management
Blockchain can prove to be a disruptive technology for maintaining accountability in waste management by placing producers, customers, and waste management workers into a network together.
Technology, with its decentralized and tamper-proof nature, could create a view of the waste supply chain that is accessible and visible to all the participants in the network, creating a level of responsibility across every member of the recycling lifecycle. Thus, accountability at every step will accelerate the process of innovation.
Waste Initiatives For a Clean Future
Various waste initiatives such as Plastic Bank and others have seen the potential of Blockchain technology in order to reduce plastic waste in developing countries. It is a company that uses distributed ledger technology, Blockchain to allow locals to trade collected plastic for personal expenses and other goods and services.
Apart from this, Blockchain is also implemented by AREP, a multidisciplinary consultancy owned by SNCF to track waste at railway stations. By utilizing Blockchain, it collects all the detailed information about all waste bins with the help of bluetooth. There is a block for each station bin, which uses bluetooth to update on quantities of each kind of waste, who collected it, and how it moves around.
Agora Tech Lab
Agora Tech Lab, based in Rotterdam, Netherlands, aims to help cities create participatory waste management frameworks by using blockchain technology. The company’s tamper-proof Blockchain helps it register waste management-related transactions, and based on these transactions, citizens who are part of the ecosystem get rewarded for their contribution that can be redeemed for public services to improve both recycling rates and community ties.
Such applications are advantageous to offer a solid incentive to recycle wastes through a reliable, easily accessible means of income for people living in developing countries.
Not only this, but Blockchain also provides the way to create a “material passport” for each material containing valuable information such as its origin, packaging highlights, material composition, the balance of raw vs. recycled plastics, detailing the number of times the product has been recycled.
This advanced technology will also help government institutions to track the waste generated by different businesses, thereby helping to trade waste quotas.
Concluding Lines: Is Blockchain the Answer?
If we talk about the biggest challenges associated with the current waste management solutions, it is that they don’t consider the entire lifecycle of products, i.e., right from production to becoming waste. Thus it is crucial to impose rules in place for companies who are responsible for the waste they generate, and strict penalties must be imposed that fail to meet the desired demands.
Blockchain undoubtedly may help in dealing with waste management. With its application of validation and tracking, we could see a system with more accountability on the waste management industry as a whole.