One of the key barriers for plastics to enter into a circular economy is its complexity in terms of different types of plastics as well as different additive. At the same time purity of variety is mandatory for effective recycling.
However, plastic waste often occurs in small amounts that do not justify specific collection and recycling schemes: Recording the specific composition of these plastic wastes, place and time of generation and their subsequent use in industrial processes causes transaction costs that are often higher than the cost saving potentials from using recycled materials.
The pathfinder project aims to explore business opportunities as well as climate change mitigation potentials from establishing a blockchain application specifically for a regional network of SMEs (small and mid-sized enterprises) which individually generate small amounts of plastic left-overs, packaging, by-products, and waste. The plastics recycling business is currently impaired owing to the lack of transparency with regard to material quality, properties, purity, and availability. So far, these plastics are largely fed into incineration. Blockchain as a decentralized ledger with the capacity to track and trace every transaction and material flow, could tackle these shortcomings.
The project assesses the feasibility and long-term effectiveness of regional blockchain-based networks that record the generation, uptake and exchange of these materials between companies to reduce transaction costs, create market transparency, and create economically relevant scales of recyclable materials. The project highlights the technical, economic, legal as well as institutional issues that need to be addressed in order to develop circular models for plastics.
Project output and outcome will be leveraged to develop a growth and innovation strategy for the use of blockchain applications for CO2 mitigation. The exact scope and content of this strategy will include the next steps to be taken for scaling the blockchain solutions in the wider industrial region.