Where Plastic Waste and the Blockchain Meet
Plastic Bank utilizes blockchain technology to help those living in some of the poorest regions in the world exchange plastic waste for monetary credit. Currently operating in Haiti and the Philippines (Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, Panama and India are next on their list), Plastic Bank is not only providing a source of income for collectors, but is recycling the plastic into new products before it reaches the oceans.
Companies who decide to utilize this recycled material pay a premium to help ensure that the the collectors can earn enough to get by. Plastic credit can be exchanged for cash or be applied to purchase goods at the collection center stores. These credits can even be applied for children’s school tuition through their Plastic Banks’s education partners.
Plastic Banks’ technology runs on IBM’s Blockchain Protocol to create a secure “hyper ledger,” which essentially has created a banking application for people who would ordinarily not have access to such services. This allows users to securely store funds and without having to risk carrying large sums of cash.
While such services are not yet available in the US and Europe, you can make a pledge on Plastic Banks’ website to offset your plastic consumption each year and be plastic neutral. The funds from this program are used to promote and incentivize plastic collection and provide a valuable income stream in areas that need it most.
Bringing Plastic Bank to the United States?
There is no doubt that this is a very novel and elegant solution that creates a lot of good on a number of levels. I couldn’t help but get inspired by this and and desire a similar system here in the States. I am curious if there is an opportunity for American consumers to utilize a similar model where plastic waste is deposited in exchange for credit towards a new product or service.
Imagine if you could pay for a new pair of shoes with the plastic credit you have earned by dropping off your diligently sorted and cleaned plastic at a nearby collection center. These new shoes would contain recycled plastic that comes from the same collection program and are manufactured regionally. What was once waste would be turned into value.
Perhaps this would increase our recycling rate and improve the quality of our recycling. It would certainly change how we value plastic waste and change our behavior. The benefits for the companies that accepted this plastic credit could be distinction as a social and environmental leader as well as an increase in brand loyalty.
High-five to Plastic Bank for promoting a more sustainable future and improving people’s quality of life in some of the most disadvantaged communities.
Let me know in the comments if you would participate in such a program here in the US.