The Blockchain boom hits the waste industry

The waste and recycling industries are not always considered as spaces that overlap with the technology sector. But some industry innovators are looking for ways to successfully integrate emerging blockchain technologies into their business models.

Blockchain is considered a highly secure and decentralized system that can be used for a variety of transactions between two parties, making it ideal for waste and recycling applications. The concept is expected to touch and transform every global sector in the next 10 years.

Blockchain is a digital record archiving system that links a growing list of encrypted records or "blocks". The decentralized ledger catalogs transactions on multiple computers within a network, and people known as "miners" provide transaction validation or "job proof". It is the concept on which cryptocurrencies have been built – like bitcoin, a currency product based on the operational concept of blockchain – partly because its advanced security makes the chain of records unalterable and this system has not yet been breached.

Improving the business with blockchain

Smart contracts currently demonstrate the most commonly explored use, where the details of the contract are written in the blockchain metadata. Smart contracts increase transparency and reduce fraud because they can not be changed, instead requiring a completely new block of information to be added to make changes, essentially as a modification of the original document. They also increase privacy by offering more protection on individual user data.

Smart contracts present opportunities for transporters and processors of materials to create secure agreements with customers, including municipalities and manufacturers. They can also be used for land purchase agreements, equipment dealers, consultants or other partnerships along the supply chain.

"Blockchain and smart contracts go hand in hand," said Shaun Frankson, co-founder of Plastic Bank and chief digital strategist. In fact, when many people think they are talking about blockchain as a general concept, "they are actually talking about the characteristics of the smart contract."

Plastic Bank is a global network of micro-recycling markets that allows people to develop countries collect plastics and are rewarded with cryptocurrencies supported by blockchain. Every piece of plastic that a person recovers from the environment, families or businesses is delivered to a Plastic Bank office run by a local entrepreneur who oversees the community's plastic recycling program. Plastics are sorted by type, color and weight and are sold directly to final producers, and individuals who have introduced plastic receive a cryptocurrency fee.

The safety and verifiability features of Blockchain make it ideal for use in countries where plastic The Bank is struggling with high poverty rates and with less transparent and corruptible financial systems, such as Haiti, Indonesia, Brazil and the Philippines.

Integrating the blockchain into the Plastic Bank business model "has unlocked some of the sore points we have" come to realize, like that in most of the communities in which we operate, people do not qualify for bank accounts, and it is very dangerous for them to save large amounts of money, "Frankson said, adding that this provides" different ways people can cash in on that token when it is safe and appropriate or to continue using it in the local token ecosystems. "

Ecosystems of local tokens include trade in plastic materials recovered for non-cash rewards such as recharging minutes of solar cell phone, fuel for cooking, school fees and school supplies. In addition, blockchain helps the cryptocurrency system of Plastic Bank in a similar way "as with smart contracts because we can add those crystalline conditions when a token can be used," said Frankson.

Verification is a top blockchain use .In the collection and recycling space, companies often they use it to check service delivery and payment receipt.

Goodr's waste management company also uses the blockchain for verification purposes.The Atlanta business recovers surplus food from restaurants and businesses for the donation rather than disposal Food companies take part in the planning of withdrawals and verify delivery through ap p Goodr in addition to viewing data trends related to the types and quantities of food they are discarding.

"When we pick up the items, we check what the customer has entered what we're recovering, but the blockchain is really backing it up," said Jasmine Crowe, founder and CEO of Goodr. "He came from the idea of ​​all the times I've been in a grocery story and I've donated some food to some charity, but you never know for sure that that food actually came out of the supermarket."

Goodr charges companies for pickups just like other waste management models, but charitable organizations receive the recovered food for free. Crowe said he had the idea of ​​innovating with blockchain when he read about how the concept was used to verify real estate and mortgage transactions. "It's something new to everyone else and a trendy topic, but we were talking about the use of blockchain in our technology [early] last year," he said.

"We were not issuing cryptocurrency, we were not buying things with the blockchain, but more than anything else is just being able to show through the verification process that [charity] got this food," Crowe said. "The biggest piece for us is to make sure that the customer can verify that the food has actually arrived to someone who needs it."

In addition, blockchain helps "make sure all our numbers are real, because we are dealing with the potential tax savings for customers while donating items," Crowe said. "We want to make sure that they can not go back and merge the numbers, that if the IRS ever comes to them and says" How come you guys have $ 5,000 of tax breakups? "We have this ledger in progress ".

Improvement of recycling rates

While blockchain serves as the safest and most verifiable method for making transactions, the industry also uses the concept to increase recycling rates.

Relying on cryptocurrency, for example, changes the metric for valuation goods and makes people's participation more useful. "We need to bring stability to recycling, especially with plastic recycling, often directly related to oil prices," which can precipitate and make virgin material more valuable than recovered items, Frankson said. "The 80% of ocean plastic comes from developing countries where there is hardly any waste management system, so how do we reveal the value of plastic?" We wanted to make plastic too precious to go into the world. Ocean."

Plastic Bank's blockchain sustained incentives have shown success with the increased participation in the recycling program. The concept has the potential to improve consumer recycling in the US context in similar ways.

Likewise, Goodr's food waste diversion model employed on a larger scale could increase national commercial food recovery rates and make way for residential organic substance collection programs. The company already has plans for expanding into new sectors and geographic areas in the coming months.

"Right now we are doing the diversion of edible surplus, but now we have access to our first anaerobic digester – customers turn food waste into fuel and other objects," Crowe said. "We will announce the next two launch cities by the end of this year, and we are preparing all our pilots to move forward in 2019."

Emerging markets

Although the use of blockchain is slowly spreading in the waste and recycling sectors, its full potential has not yet been realized.

Four New York power plants have recently announced a collaboration to determine new uses for blockchain in their sector and have mentioned potential partnerships with community solar companies. It could also be another area of ​​blockchain opportunities for the waste industry, considering the emerging market to transform landfills confined to photovoltaic fields.

In addition to finding their uses, recycling and waste companies can study how other industries have innovated blockchain and incorporate best practices just like Goodr's Crowe with the transformation of a & # 39; idea of ​​a real estate sector in a food recovery strategy.

Other innovative concepts will certainly come to light in the coming years because more companies integrate blockchain into their operations and experience the benefits. But one thing seems more and more evident: the recycling and waste companies are entering the forefront of the blockchain movement and the industries will not lag behind other advanced technology sectors.

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