When we adapt a technically heavy lifestyle every year, the problem of electronic waste becomes more widespread. Electronic products and gadgets that are typically thrown into the trash can be repaired, reused or sold even if they work properly. The good thing is that more and more people are becoming aware of the dilemma of e-waste and have started acting. In Ireland, recycling increased over 3 years, from 30.9% in 2010 to 46.1% in 2013.
The intervention of consumers can only do a lot, however, because electronic products continue to accumulate and constitute a significant part of landfills. The more the electronics remain buried, the more likely they are to lose toxic chemicals or substances that pollute the water, air and soil reserves. It is hoped that organizations and those in power can find solutions to combat the serious risks to health and the environment of electronic waste.
Ireland is one of the best students when it comes to recycling. The nation has approved the WEEE, or Waste, Electrical and Electronic Equipment program and continues to play an active role in the recycling of electronic waste in Europe. Indeed, Ireland exceeded the EU in terms of collection, re-use, recycling and recovery of WEEE in 2013. In addition, the country is on track to meet or even exceed the collection target. and recycling of 65% for 2019.
It may seem counterintuitive that a technology product can help solve the problem of electronic waste, but with the blockchain the recycling problem can potentially be solved. There are many who believe that the blockchain can be implemented to alleviate or even bring the problem of electronic waste to a complete and satisfactory resolution in the near future.
The Blockchain solution
The greatest inventions were often not intended for their current purpose, and this is the same with blockchain. Commonly linked to the digital fiat (cryptocurrency), the blockchain has proved versatile in terms of application. In solving the problem of e-waste, blockchain can help improve the recycling part.
A block is a piece of data that gets its own unique digital signature. The next block will naturally contain your information and signature, and so on. The connected blocks are then labeled as blockchain, a decentralized form of data that does not belong to an authority or a central organization, but to network users. This peer-to-peer control, together with the unique signature of the blockchain and other security measures, makes data corruption almost impossible.
Companies that have successfully adapted Blockchain to recycling
This is not the first time that the blockchain has been used to help recycle tons of waste materials. In Canada, a company called Plastic Bank was created as a solution to minimize the ecological damage caused by plastic waste. Currently, the company operates in four countries such as Peru and Haiti and plans to expand into other nations in the near future.
Plastic Bank has recycling centers in strategic positions. People can carry waste, like plastic bags, cups and empty water bottles and exchange them with digital tokens that are protected in a blockchain platform. The token can then be used to charge phones or food. All the plastic arrives to a buyer who will then re-use the material.
In France, the blockchain was used to record data on the containers of recycling stations within the Lyon railway. With the pilot program, the French rail network has simplified its waste management system and saved around € 2,000 in a single station in just one month.
How can Blockchain be used for the recycling of electronic waste?
The current recycling management system is prone to cheating and owners often exploit loopholes for greater profits. For example, staff may be ordered to collect recyclable materials but not to have it recorded in books.
Blockchain can be implemented in satellite recycling machines where people can exchange their old gadgets and electronics that do not work with digital tokens. The data and information collected on these vending machines are safe and tamper-proof from the moment the blockchain technology is installed.
Blockchain brings responsibility in recycling and in the fight against electronic waste
It is certainly true that e-waste is a big problem that can affect each of us in the long run, but awareness does not necessarily translate into responsibility. A viable solution to the electronic waste crisis is the responsibility – everyone must intervene and be held accountable as a whole.
Blockchain can register and protect invaluable data at any time during the recycling process. There will be no discrepancy, both at the time when people are introducing their electronic waste to be reused and recycled until the materials are about to be redone in something new. Vital information such as the amount of electronic waste collected, the type, the operator who brought it and the place where the waste was sent are all saved, which in turn promotes responsibility.
The immutability of Blockchain forces people, recycling centers and organizations to remain honest while making the world a better place. Once implemented, it can lead to immense change for the better.
Stewart McGrenary, who is the director of Plunc – one of the British leader online recyclers for high-end gadget and electronics.
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