Plastics Recycling Builds the Business Case for Blockchain

Arguably the most hyped technology in the world, blockchain, has found a fresh new use-case in recycling services, with big-picture plans to rid the environment of all recycling waste completely.

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Arguably the most hyped technology in the world, blockchain, has found a fresh new use-case in recycling services, with big-picture plans to rid the environment of all recycling waste completely.

World-leading recycling company, RecycleGO, has partnered with DeepDive Technology Group to bring trust, transparency and better decision-making to the recycling supply chain business using cutting-edge blockchain technology. With Phase 1 of the new project now officially underway, slated for completion in winter 2020, this project aims to help recycling service providers and large-scale producers to make better buying decisions while improving the environment.

The need for innovative recycling solutions that promote environmental sustainability has never been greater. Estimates suggest there are 400 million tons of plastic produced each year, projected to more than double by 2050. 40% of plastic packaging is said to be landfilled, with another 32% leaked into the environment, according to the World Economic Forum. 

Recycling is a difficult business. Plagued with inefficiencies, a slew of stakeholders, and a lack of digital data, the bottleneck to the recycling industry’s growth is a need for greater supply chain visibility for better decision-making. Eco-Entrepreneur and CEO at RecycleGO, Stan Chen, explained, “the more visibility you have in any kind of supply chain, the more you're able to engage in enterprise resource planning, including pricing and purchasing decisions and inventory management, which has a direct impact on protecting your margins and ultimately your value creation as a whole.” 

RecycleGO is forming collaborations with international, household brands, many of which have publicly pledged to reach 25% recycled content by 2025; with less than 5 years remaining, the recycling rate hovers around 8% today. “There is a market that wants more recycled material, but we currently don’t have enough content to support it; consumers simply are not recycling enough,” Mr. Chen adds. “Blockchain technology could be the single catalyst to actually solving that.”

Participants in the recycling blockchain technology  should expect to see 15-20% savings from supply chain optimizations during Phase 1 alone. Simultaneously, big-brand producers can use data to directly and indirectly improve the availability of recycled content in a way which boosts corporate brand image. 

Technology trailblazer and CEO of DeepDive, Misha Hanin, commented, “Blockchain technology will provide irrefutable proof of the good environmental behaviour for each and every stakeholder up and down the recycling supply chain, which can be monitored, incentivized, and ultimately trusted.” In the midst of the environmental revolution, how does one calculate the environmental cost of pollution? How does one develop a platform which accounts for this cost? 

Between the minds of Chen and Hanin, it’s believed that blockchain technology will help.

“What we have is the world’s first comprehensive and inclusive blockchain solution that allows any kind of material to be tracked, and any kind of stakeholder can join,” Chen noted. “Touching every stakeholder, every recyclable piece of material, at every point of the recycling process, this first-of-its-kind recycling solution will help us rid the environment of all recycling waste altogether. Plastic bottles are just the start.” 

Phase 1 of the multi-phase project will allow project collaborators to identify the entire history of a particular plastic bottle --  from the moment it gets created, collected, converted back to its raw material form, and shipped back to the manufacturer to make another plastic bottle.

The new blockchain product - now officially in development - will be built using Hyperledger Fabric, an open-sourced blockchain framework initiated by the Linux Foundation in 2015, supported internationally today by over 250 members including IBM, Intel, and most recently, DeepDive.

“In the past 2 years, blockchain has gone from something almost no enterprises talked about, to something today where close to half of enterprise companies have set aside substantial budgets for at least some form of POC project,” adds Mr. Hanin. “The more valuable and critically important use-cases we have, the faster the enterprise blockchain adoption we’ll see.”

Companies are currently in discussions with the world’s largest, plastic-producing brands, some of whom are already customers of RecycleGO. Mr. Chen is expected to give an all-important presentation during Climate Week (September 21-27), typically based in New York but virtual for this year, occurring in close association with the United Nations General Assembly.

“The goal is to get from 8% recycling to 100%. That's the goal for this blockchain. Our blockchain is going to be able to allow the world to get to a 100% recycling rate. That’s the moonshot that I'm shooting for. This is our target. And we know we have to use blockchain to do it.”