Blockchain-ing the Plastic Pollution Problem

Image credit: iStockphoto/solarseven

Every year, 11 million tons of plastic enter the sea globally, and APAC nations account for about half of land-based sources of marine litter. The problem is compounded by the rise of developing economies, which are forecast to generate 60% more plastic waste than developed nations by 2030.

According to a recent study, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Malaysia have received European plastic waste in particular from the Netherlands during 2021. From an average of 18.3 million pounds per month in 2020 to 41 million pounds in 2021, there was a significant increase in plastic exported to developing nations.

SAP Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) partnered with Japanese chemical company DIC Group in launching the pilot of GreenToken by SAP, aimed at increasing circularity and sustainable outcomes in the chemicals industry through better plastic waste recovery.

Most of DIC’s products are made of polystyrene, a synthetic resin used to produce plastic containers. The chemical company spearheaded an initiative to innovate new technologies and collection systems with its partner in recycling products that are commonly unsuitable for recycling, like polystyrene.

“Chemical recycling is key to accelerating the shift to a circular economy, however, plastic from chemically recycled plastic waste is indistinguishable from plastic from conventional sources. Our solution proves that it really is circular plastic and provides complete, auditable supply chain transparency. That means more trust in recycling from customers and ultimately less waste in the environment,” said James Veale, co-founder of SAP's GreenToken.

Most clients are unaware of the sources where their suppliers get their goods. GreenToken tracks raw materials' path from the beginning stage of material production, through processing and inspection, to physical properties and real-time information at the recycling facility.

Unique characteristics from the origin of raw material and recovered goods, carbon footprints, and sustainability certification data are all essential details. This provides transparency to customers, allowing them to clearly understand how much recycled material is included in recycled plastic products. Furthermore, blockchain eliminates duplicate fact certificates by generating a unique token for each certificate that ensures that materials are not double-counted in the circular economy.

According to SAP, GreenToken can also be adopted in agriculture, energy conservation, metals and ore, hydrogen, and carbon industries to boost urgency in realizing a sustainable society.

Image credit: iStockphoto/solarseven