A system in which the values of goods, resources, and capital are preserved for a long time can be regarded as a circular economy (Oyundelger, 2020). The idea of the circular economy by the European Union, reinforced by the new circular economy action plan, created the basis for a transition towards sustainable waste management (Taylor et al., 2020).
The material recirculation and a move towards recycling with high quality are critical to developing a circular economy; systemic adjustments along value chains are also considered necessary, fundamentally altering production and consumption patterns (Laouar et al., 2019). Instead of looking for the solution to handle huge piles of waste, the adoption of a new approach focuses on producing secondary materials according to the market demand to deal with the global waste and resource crisis that calls for the adoption of more sustainable practices regarding waste management. These practices can include redirecting waste streams that would otherwise be disposed of or incinerated to reuse, recycle, or recover.
Alliance within and across value chains and stakeholders is a critical component of the transition to a circular economy. It is therefore critical to improve traceability and transparency across the product life cycle. The connection of materials and flow of information and securely communicating the data to stakeholders in value chains is made possible by distributed ledger technology.
Distributed-ledger technology and blockchain share similar meanings where the basic notion is that the data in a block is verifiable and permanent since it is nearly impossible to modify or mutate. This technology was utilized to implement a digital currency in its most well-known and well-used form (Ongena et al., 2018).
Blockchain-enabled technology can be utilized to reduce waste by exchanging materials using digital tokens, services, or, in some cases, money in a secure platform. Blockchains are mostly known for their use as digital payments like Bitcoin, but at their foundation, the data is stored that is difficult to tamper with, allowing smart contracts to systematize transactions without mediators. To transmit payments to the recyclers, a tokenized recycling process based on blockchain technology has been suggested (SENSANETWORKS 2019). It also allows the customers to trace their waste from the moment it becomes part of the trash bins until recycled.
An entity that is disposing of its garbage is credited or compensated with the blockchain-secured digital token that may be traded for the products or other exchanges like currency. The plastic Bank utilizes a blockchain reward system to encourage people to collect plastic trash (Henkel. n.d.), especially in developing countries, to lower plastic pollution in the seas. The collected garbage is taken to collecting locations where it is weighed before a reward is paid to the accumulator using an application based on blockchain banking. The characteristic features like transparency prevent deceitful and shady activities. Different firms, including Recereum (Recereum, n.d.), Agora Tech lab (Agora tech lab, 2020), and Swachhcoin, are involved in digital waste management (Swachhcoin, 2018).
Auditing to discover misconduct and applying fines and verification to settle conflicts between users is possible with the given provenance, for example, to track if toxic waste disposal is done lawfully. Smart contracts may be utilized for the automation of penalty enforcement and prevention of conflicts from arising. These advantages of blockchain increase use confidence and offer incentives that motivate them to be honest in their transactions and event recording (Taylor et al., 2020).
- Agora Tech. Lab. (2020). Creating circular economies by rewarding responsible behaviour. REFLOW.
- Henkel. (n.d.). Plastic bank partnership. Home.
- Laouar, M. R., Hamad, Z. T., & Eom, S. (2019, March). Towards blockchain-based urban planning: Application for waste collection management. In Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Information Systems and Technologies (pp. 1-6).
- Ongena, G., Smit, K., Boksebeld, J., Adams, G., Roelofs, Y., & Ravesteyn, P. (2018, June). Blockchain-based smart contracts in waste management: a silver bullet?. In Bled eConference (p. 19).
- Oyundelger, K. (2020, December 21). The circular economy. THRIVE blog.
- Recereum. (n.d.). https://recereum.com/
- Swachhcoin. (2018, February 1). Decentralised waste management system- The solution for cleaner planet. Medium.
- Taylor, P., Steenmans, K., & Steenmans, I. (2020). Blockchain Technology for Sustainable Waste Management. Frontiers in Political Science, 2, 15.
- SENSANETWORKS. (2019, January 14). How is blockchain tech impacting waste management? From bitcoins to environmental protection. Waste Management.