Blockchain

The plastic bank blockchain project looking to clear up the oceans

Ocean plastic
(C) iStock.com/lindsay_imagery

Around 8 million tonnes of plastic find its way into the ocean of the world every year. This amount of material is too large to be conceivable, but anyone that wants an indication of the scale of the problem should look up the ‘Great Pacific garbage patch’.

There are a multitude of people and organisations working on trying to reduce the amount of plastic that we use and throw away.

Now The Plastic Bank is bringing blockchain to the table.

The project was started by David Katz and Shaun Frankson and launched its first plastic recycling market in Haiti. The market functions by allowing people to exchange plastic for assets such as solar mobile phone charging and sustainable cooking fuels.

The project has since grown to encompass a global network of companies and transactions. But the people that collected the plastic needed to be paid, but carrying cash could make them targets.

In short, an easily scalable transaction system was needed, one that was capable of connecting and serving huge global companies and some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

The fact that everyone uses mobile phones pointed towards digital transactions, and blockchain technology is a secure way to avoid risk and create a permanent record to track.

The result was a collaboration between the project, IBM and Cognition Foundry using Hyperledger Fabric and the IBM LinuxONE system.

How does it work?

The system allows people with no other source of income to collect plastic, and turn this into a way of providing resources for their families.

In a blog post, Shaun Frankson said:

“I feel like it’s bringing hope, pride and dignity to the art of recycling and cleaning the world at the same time. And that’s what blockchain is doing for us.”

The system works through the a specially created digital currency and exchange platform. The plastic that is collected is the labelled Social Plastic and sold on to participating companies.

The company states that:

“In addition to the benefits of recycling, the platform provides the ability for local entrepreneurs to operate a convenience store for the poor, in which plastic waste is the currency. It is a means for anyone to go out and collect enough plastic to provide for their families and send their children to school. All through the act of recycling.”

You can watch a video about the project here:

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