BASF extends plastics recycling blockchain pilot into British Columbia

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BASF SE, a German chemical company, Thursday announced the launch of a pilot of its reciChain distributed ledger blockchain platform in British Columbia, Canada, to help introduce a sustainable recycling model to help reduce the production of plastic waste.

The pilot, operated by BASF’s Canadian branch BASF Canada, will use blockchain technology combined with digital badges and loop count technology, which can count the number of products present in a particular volume, to enable securely sharing recycling data amidst market participants.

The objective will be to provide real-time up-to-date information to improve the sorting, tracing and monitoring of plastics throughout the value chain lifecycle of such products. As a result, BASF expects its integrative supply chain with a recycling solution to help create a circular cycle for product use instead of a linear “product, consumer, trash” lifecycle.

In addition, due to the increased transparency of blockchain technology, brands can use the platform to provide more assurance of the validity of certificates for materials bought from recyclers and converters.

“There is a clear global challenge around the economics of recycling plastic,” said Marcelo Lu, president of BASF Canada. “Much of the collection and sorting activities are challenged by manual processes and material contamination. Additionally, traceability is a concern as new commitments start to emerge from brand owners and retailers. With reciChain, our goal is to revitalize the value of plastics and significantly improve circularity in the supply chain.”’

According to a report from Deloitte for Environment and Climate Change Canada, Canada disposed of nearly 3.3 million tons of plastic waste in 2016. Less than 11% of those plastics were recycled. This means that the remains were landfilled or otherwise discarded into the environment. The report estimated that if this trend continues, Canadians will dispose of $11.1 billion worth of plastic materials each year by 2030.

The platform was initially piloted in Brazil and was inspired by a need in the market to deal with social inequality issues as well as regulatory concerns regarding the issuance of recycling certificates. With additional transparency and the tamper-evident effect of blockchain technology, it allowed for the tokenization of the recycling value of plastics, which allowed businesses and the government to better propose fairer distribution along the supply chain.

BASF hopes that this Canadian pilot, and the pilot in Brazil, will lead to more data about the use of the platform for tracking recycled plastics so that further pilot programs can be launched in other regions.

“A successful implementation of reciChain will result in a collaborative digital consortium that will bring together plastic manufacturers, suppliers, government entities, retailers, waste collectors and recyclers aimed at keeping the life of plastic molecules circular,” said Anthony DiPrinzio, head of BASF Blockchain Lab.

The project in Brazil has already gained the participation of major Brazilian key institutions and businesses and will continue to develop in parallel with the Canadian pilot program.

DiPrinzio argued that blockchain technology will offer what is needed to allow distinct entities in the supply chain to work together to ensure that products contribute to a “circular economy” that would be generated by recycling plastic products.

Photo: BASF

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