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How Blockchain is Prompting Innovations in Waste Management

Brian Njuguna   Feb 28, 2020 04:15 3 Min Read


   

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Waste management is an essential procedure as it entails the actions and activities, such as treatment, transportation, and collection, necessitated in the disposal and control of waste. Additionally, waste takes different forms ranging from gas to liquid matter. 

As we continue adapting tech-savvy lifestyles, the issue of electronic waste or e-waste has become prevalent as the usefulness of many electronic gadgets and products continues to diminish. According to a United Nations report, the world emitsas much as 50 million tonnes of e-waste worth $62.5 billion annually, and this exceeds the GDP of most nations. On the other hand, the amount of municipal solid waste produced yearly surpasses 2.01 billion tonnes. 

These statistics, therefore, show how prudent it becomes to have efficient waste management measures. Blockchain can come in handy in the realization of this objective through the creation of a trustworthy, transparent, and immutable supply chain network for a plethora of different records. This technology can aid in the digital tracking of information, allowing an in-depth analysis of supply chains.

Trading off waste for digital tokens

When it comes to waste management, creativity, and tech-savviness are necessitated as they encourage people to incorporate more environmentally friendly measures. For instance, by offering some form of compensation, people will feel entitled to dispose of waste in the right manner.

Blockchain has proven to be an ideal player in initializing digital tokens. For instance, a Canadian company called Plastic Bank in operation in Haiti and Peru utilizes a blockchain solution to reduce the ecological ruin prompted by plastic waste. 

The company has strategically located recycling centers where people take their waste, such as empty plastic water bottles, cups, and bags in exchange for digital tokens secured via a blockchain platform and can be redeemed for food or charging phones. All the plastic collected is then sold to a buyer for recycling purposes. 

This blockchain model is gaining traction because an Italian town called Miglianico borrowed a leaf by implementinga similar idea. Through a blockchain-powered “Pay as You Throw” (PAYT) model, the town has been able to enhance waste management as the annual cost of waste collection has decreased from €900,000, approximately $974,000, to €600,000, nearly $649,000.  

Miglianico uses both the blockchain-powered PAYT model and radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags pegged on sacks and bins. Collection staff is offered wristbands for scanning residents' waste. This approach has enabled the town to realize 85% of waste management efficiency. 

Solving the e-waste puzzle

The present recycling management systems are, at times, characterized by cheating as owners usually exploit loopholes to make more profit. For instance, staff may be coerced to collect recyclable items but not make records on the same.

With blockchain, these loopholes will be sealed because a transaction will have to be stored on its distributed ledger technology (DLT) that guarantees tamper-proof records. For example, blockchain can be incorporated into satellite recycling machines where people can be enticed to exchange their functionless and old electronics and gadgets with digital tokens. 

South Korea’s Jeju Island has heeded to this call because it revealedthe implementation of a blockchain-enabled electric vehicle waste-battery distribution management network meant to curb depleted electric vehicle batteries last month. 

Real-time tracking of waste 

The other solution blockchain can offer in waste management is real-time tracking. Given that blockchain is a digital ledger network, transactions are stored both publicly and chronologically. As a result, this can boost the easier tracking of recycling and waste shipments, as well as propel regulatory compliance. 

For instance, in September 2019, Waste2Wear, a Dutch green fabrics company, launched the first-ever fabric collection meant to convert ocean plastics into eco-fabrics. 

Climate change and global warming are predicaments continuously wreaking havoc in modern society, and this is partly caused by inadequate waste management solutions. Blockchain, however, offers hope for boosting waste management measures through various strategies, such as distributed ledgers and digital tokens. 

 

Image via Shutterstock


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