two main waste management challenges have emerged at the center of efforts to
build better waste management solutions via the blockchain.
the greatest issue facing the waste management industry is that there is simply
so much waste to handle. Worldwide, solid waste generation is projected to increase by 70 percent between 2010 and
2025. As the volume of waste grows, so does the difficulty of finding a place
to put it all without polluting.
important way of combating this problem is to make better use of recycling in
order to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. That’s what
cities like San Francisco are doing as they pursue a “zero waste” goal.
increasing recycling rates is easier said than done in many cases. Consumers
are sometimes confused about what can be recycled or how to do it. And they
often have little incentive to recycle, since the extra effort required to sort
and deposit recyclables usually results in little financial reward. In many cases,
there is no financial incentive to recycle at all. When such incentives do
exist, they tend to come in the form of bottle deposit fees that fail to keep pace with
factors help to explain why, in the United States, only about 23 percent of recyclable bottles are
major waste management issue results from limited accountability within the
networks that transport waste from households and businesses to landfills.
who diligently sort out recyclables from trash have little way of knowing that
the former do not end up in landfills despite their efforts, because
it is impossible in most cases for consumers to track waste once it leaves
their curb. It is also difficult to ensure that the fees contractors charge
local governments to dispose of waste — which are typically measured according
to the weight of the waste — are accurately calculated. The lack of
accountability and visibility within waste management networks further
disincentivizes recycling, while also making environmentally responsible waste
But a number of companies are building platforms that use
blockchains to solve these issues.
in 2013, the Plastic Bank was among the first
organizations to turn to blockchain technology as a way of improving waste
management. Its specific focus is on reducing the amount of plastic waste that
group’s vision is simple: By using cryptocurrency payments to reward people for
recycling plastic waste, it hopes to provide a better incentive system, while
also improving the quality of life for people who participate in its recycling
recycling rewards are important not just because they provide financial
incentives for recycling that can be more valuable than the bottle deposits
available in developed countries, but also because they enable rewards payments
for people in developing countries who lack access to banks, and therefore
cannot be paid in other ways for recycling. Given that much of the world’s
trash ends up in developing nations, cryptocurrency recycling
rewards promise to be particularly innovative for increasing recycling rates
worldwide — and, by extension, reducing overall waste.
Recereum is using the blockchain to tackle another challenge related
to recycling: Waste sorting, or the process of sorting recyclable materials
from other types of waste.
project is building a platform that will enable municipalities and other
organizations to reward proper waste sorting. Eventually, the project hopes to
go further by releasing devices like vending machines where consumers can turn
in specialty recyclables, such as batteries.
Swachhcoin aims to improve not just recycling but the entire waste
management process by combining blockchain technology with big data analytics
and IoT-enabled smart devices. Its digital token, also called “Swachhcoin,”
serves primarily as a payment system for rewarding individual households for
participating in the platform, but the company also says it is developing other
technologies to improve the efficiency of waste management once waste has left
Tech Lab’s take
on cryptocurrency-based recycling rewards is similar to that of the companies
described above, with one key difference: Its digital token can be redeemed for
public services. In this way, the company aims to integrate blockchain-based
recycling rewards into local economies, strengthening community ties at the
same time that it improves recycling rates.
Ministry for Infrastructure
the blockchain-based waste management solutions described above focus on
improving recycling rates. The Dutch Ministry for Infrastructure envisions
another way to put blockchain technology to use for waste management: improving
accountability and visibility into waste while it is in transit.
2018, the agency announced that it had commissioned
software companies to develop a custom waste management solution that enables
better tracking of waste as it travels from producers to landfills.
management challenges will only grow more difficult as the amount of waste
produced by the world’s population increases. While blockchain technology can’t
solve all of the issues in the industry, it stands to improve accountability
and provide better incentives for recycling. Since every bit helps in reducing
the world’s waste issues and mitigating the effects of pollution, blockchain technology
will prove to be an important part of the solution for waste management.