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How Blockchain Might Be a Godsend to Waste Management

blockchain in waste management

Waste management is no simple matter. Taking into consideration that one person produces 0.74 kg of waste on average per day and with a world population of around 7.6 billion, it is going to be a real challenge to track the journey of the wastes. Besides the overwhelming number of garbage, there is also the type of refuse that needs to be taken into accountability, which further complicates the matter.

Here is where blockchain technology swoops in to save the day.

The pilot projects in the US, Argentina and India are mitigating this issue by adopting blockchain technology. This ensures that the garbage collection process data remains transparent to both waste managers and citizens.

Incentivizing with Crypto

Hailing from Campo Viera in Argentina, entrepreneur Ivan Zubilewicz created a cryptocurrency built on a blockchain named JellyCoin in hopes that it would help improve the local waste collection, which is scheduled to be released locally within March 2021. JellyCoin was initially pegged to the Argentinian peso.

In Argentina, the regulatory framework for cryptocurrency has yet to be fully developed. Nonetheless, Campo Viera will be accepting JellyCoin (in a limited capacity) soon. Once implemented, JellyCoin will be used to incentivize citizen waste collection and the distance traveled via an app. Zubilewicz noted that JellyCoin will be initially used to make certain payments to the city such as real estate taxes, and eventually branch out to other kinds of transactions.

Solving Garbage Problem with App

Meanwhile in Bengaluru, India, Citizen Involved & Technology Assisted Governance (CITAG), a non-profit group, is starting a community movement.

Shobha Ananda Reddy, secretary of CITAG and environmental scientist, said:

“We have a lot of issues with solid waste management, so we wanted to look at how to use blockchain technology to introduce a grievance redressal mechanism.”

Municipal governing body Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has an app designed to regulate waste management and more. Users submit complaints whenever the waste collection did not go as planned, such as when the garbage is not picked up or trash is being piled up (visually represented by black spots). While it is not an overall bad system, Reddy and CITAG think that it has plenty of room for improvement.

However, the officers are pointing out the discrepancies between the status of the reported issue and whether it is actually resolved in the real world, as well as the tampering of past entries still being possible.

According to Reddy, blockchain solves the problem above by ensuring that “any changes will require three levels of approval.” The technology also enables transparency which higher-ups can utilize to check who is performing and who is not.

CITAG’s blockchain is currently in pilot mode. CITAG is looking forward to releasing a fuller version to their entire municipality in the following weeks.

Utilizing QR Code for Data Collection

A New York-based startup of five persons, RecycleGO, is targeting the communities around the world.

The CEO of RecycleGO, Stan Chen is aware of the fact that only a small fraction of the 400 million tons of plastic produced a year actually gets recycled. Which is why he, as a second-generation recycling professional, believes that the change must be systemic and sweeping.

“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,” said Chen.

RecycleGO has plans to supervise a beach cleanup in Miami. Once the QR codes on plastic bottles are scanned, the data will be added and tracked on a blockchain as they are converted into raw materials and upcycled into merchandise. Similar and larger effort will be conducted in Nigeria in the future.

What Do All of These Mean?

As stated earlier, waste management is not as straightforward as one would think. While the topic of waste does not occupy the minds of most people, it is a highly significant global issue that will bring serious consequences if left as it is.

While blockchain technology may not be the ultimate solution to solving the global waste issue for once and for all, it does open up a lot more possibilities that were once thought to be impossible.

Regarding blockchain’s relationship with environmentalism, the technology is not the most eco-friendly thing out there. Especially with crypto mining as the operation requires a great deal of electrical energy. However, similarly to how some oil and gas companies reduce gas flaring by using crypto mining technology, the applicability of blockchain in waste management proves that it can be a great ally to our blue planet too.

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