Global Recycling Day is coming up this Saturday, March 16th. With it, we search for the solution to one of the world’s biggest difficulties: responsible recycling.

Blockchain could be the key.

There are already blockchain recycling initiatives are already out there, such as the IBM-backed Plastic Bank who offer tokens in return for plastic. However, blockchain has another use in recycling, and that’s traceability.

The problem of electronics

Blockchain is known for its decentralised nature, its permanence and its ability to trace products end-to-end. That’s why it’s perfect for waste disposal.

Many products go through a long process over their life cycles. Take a smartphone, for example. Smartphones use multiple minerals like cobalt and lithium. This is the first point of tracing recycling to ensure that the wastage from mining is consciously disposed of.

The product is then manufactured, sent to a store, and bought by a consumer. The consumer uses it for a certain amount of time and then either sells it on or disposes of it. But how? What can we do with old, used electronic items?

Many of us don’t even know where to begin when it comes to disposing of technological e-waste. And that’s why a large amount of it ends up in nature or landfill.

According to the UK’s Royal Statistical Society, 90.5% of plastic waste has never been recycled, with only 12% incinerated. This means around 79% of the world’s plastic waste ends up in landfill or in nature.

The advantages of recycling

You might not be aware, but there are a myriad of uses for your waste. In fact, Sweden has implemented a system whereby almost 100 percent of household waste is recycled. They even have to import waste to fuel energy.

There’s also other ways recycling can be useful. Most of us don’t know what to do with our smartphones after we’re done with them, but they actually contain a lot of rare materials like gold, silver and cobalt. Companies can use these components to create future products, instead of mining more minerals.

Our waste could actually be worth a whole lot. We just need to implement ways to make it so.

Tracing the waste supply chain

Blockchain’s permanence and decentralisation means it’s ideal for tracing the lifecycle of a product. Products are given a code, or an RFID tag, that can be scanned along its lifetime. This means it can be tracked back to the original producer or potentially even its last owner.

text 'only 20% e-waste collected or recycled'

It might seem crazy that you could pick up a product, scan it and find out its history. It could, however, very soon be the future of blockchain waste management.

The current state of recycling and disposal does not value accountability. In fact, there are very few ways that you could hold any company and/or person accountable to the waste they’ve created.

Here’s the value of blockchain. It allows an easy, accessible view of the supply chain. It would bring value to both consumers and companies to better understand the life cycles of their products. In addition, both sides will feel more compelled to recycle as there is more visibility and accountability in the process.

With incentives like Plastic Bank’s, too, people can be motivated to recycle.

Blockchain makes supply chain tracking easy. Here at Blockhead Technologies, we’re making traceable supply chains a reality. Find out how here.