With the adoption of blockchain technology, projects in the US are trying to add accountability to the garbage collection process that will allow waste managers to scrutinize the process with more knowledge and insight.
It’s not easy to say where trash goes after it leaves the curb outside your house.
Most waste products aren’t recycled, instead, they all too often end up in landfills. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in 2018, approximately 146.1 million tons of municipal solid waste were landfilled. Most of this waste consisted of food, at around 24%, while plastics accounted for another 18% of waste.
About 12% was made up of paper and paperboard while 11% consisted of rubber, leather and textiles. Other materials accounted for less than 10% each.
How much of this waste accumulates is often a challenge to track down, as there are many moving parts that exist along the chain, including processing centers and collectors.
With the adoption of blockchain technology, specific pilot projects in the US are trying to add accountability to the garbage collection process that will allow waste managers to scrutinize the process with more knowledge and insight.
Blockchain is a decentralized ledger for linking information that can handle vast amounts of data and is often seen as permanent because it is tough to alter.
In many ways, Blockchain underpins various cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, and it has also become the foundation of Web 3.0, the next post-Big Tech phase in internet progression.
Though many of its applications are in their initial developmental stages, Blockchain is currently being used to recreate fields in vast industries, from banking and real estate to art and waste management. Additionally, Blockchain is also a secure digital ledger, where activities are listed chronologically and publicly. According to industry specialists, Blockchain could continue making it easier to track waste and recycling shipments in the future.
Although it is a system designed to provide an advanced platform for tracking and regulatory compliance, Blockchain, at its essence, is a tool intended to encrypt and protect digital payments securely.
This function offers enormous benefits for recycling companies buying and selling products across borders.
Certain blockchain-driven waste projects are presently looking for ways to reach a wider audience. An example of this is RecycleGo, a growing startup based in New York that targets communities worldwide.
RecycleGo provides cutting-edge technology to track, verify and report recycling and sustainability efforts based on their website. The company aims to blend software and technology into recycling, evolving beyond an industry that is quickly becoming distinct.
Currently, the world produces roughly 400 million tons of plastic a year, yet only a small fraction of that amount can be recycled. Businesses like RecycleGo operate on the belief that change must be immediate and systematic. For the recycling process to be widely successful, the world needs a scalable, easily measurable solution.
The company’s chief executive officer, Stan Chen, said that the company is making strides toward providing a system that is easy to track and measure.
“What the world needs is scalable solutions, broad scalable solutions in terms of tracking, in terms of attaching data to human activity, in terms of really allowing social impact behavior to be monitored, measured and credited,” Chen said.
In addition to breaking through in locations around the United States, RecycleGO also plans to roll out a comparable, more significant effort in one of Africa’s biggest hubs, Nigeria. For this process, plastic bottles and the bales into which they are bundled will receive QR codes and, when scanned, these codes will reveal their chain of travel as they progress in the recycling process.
RecycleGo plans to adopt this same measure in Ghana by using Blockchain to track fishing nets lost in the ocean. As part of the process, the nets will be collected, baled and turned back into nylon nets.
Many hold the belief that the current waste management system lacks accountability and an effective tracking system, adding a level of frustration to recycling efforts.
Besides Bitcoin, there are no other digital transaction systems that exist to hold individuals, companies, or corporations responsible for the waste they’ve created.
By placing consumers, makers and waste management workers in a labyrinth together, Blockchain could create a system to document the waste supply chain that is readily available and apparent. Blockchain also adds value to both consumers and organizations by exhibiting the specific impact of recycling to every member of its chain.
Despite traditional beliefs that producers of consumer-packaged goods should shoulder the responsibility for decreasing landfill materials, the introduction of Blockchain would create a high level of responsibility for all involved in the recycling life cycle.
Blockchain is an optimal tracking system for a product’s life cycle with its decentralized and tamper-proof nature, as already demonstrated in many industries. If Blockchain could extend through the recycling process, experts believe it would exponentially boost accountability at every step.
In general, using a consortium blockchain would create a vast platform for waste management and recycling companies to share their data readily while having a tamper-proof ledger of where the waste went and what quantity was recycled.
This entire record would place responsibility on every chain member rather than just on the producer, yielding a more efficient recycling process.
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