The E-waste problem is becoming a growing concern as more and more people take to digital products. But the good thing is that awareness, environmental responsibility and sustainability are getting more widespread, and more people are choosing to recycle rather than simply throwing their tech away in the trash bin.
These goods can be reused or sold to recycling sites like Plunc or to other individuals who may still find a use for the device. Ireland, for example, has grown their recycling efforts and enjoy a 15% increase in 3 years’ time, from 30.9 percent to 46.1 percent in 2013.
While all of these efforts are commendable, electronic waste from old things still makes its way into our landfills and make up a huge portion in total. Not only does it up space, but these things also release chemical toxins from materials that can contaminate the ground, the air and the water we drink. If we’d want to get to the bottom of the e-waste problem, then the biggest corporations and manufacturers must participate.
Ireland is one model student that all countries should emulate when it comes to recycling. They currently have the WEEE, or Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment program that governs how residents and organizations should dispose of their eWaste. The regulation has proven so effective that Ireland has surpassed EU in the recycling, reuse and collecting aspect within WEEE standards in 2013. The government and its inhabitants are on pace to meeting the target of 65 percent e-waste recycling and collection for 2019.
Legislators are now looking at existing technology to combat the global dilemma. One possible solution, the blockchain, is quickly becoming a promising factor in solving current issues and future ones.
How The Blockchain Can Potentially Solve E-Waste Concerns
Originally, the blockchain technology was primarily made for cryptocurrencies. It’s immutable and decentralized aspect gave the world a glimpse of how transactions could be made without compromise or being stored on a single server. In e-waste, a blockchain can bring forth a satisfactory solution when it comes to responsible recycling.
The blockchain is made up of several ‘blocks’, or chunks of data that have their own digital signature. The connected blocks make up a blockchain, which isn’t stored anywhere and doesn’t belong to a single organization or authority, but the users themselves. It’s a versatile peer-to-peer platform that’s secure and prevents data corruption.
Recycling Companies That Have Successfully Harnessed The Blockchain
The blockchain technology has been around the block when it comes to recycling e-waste and common materials.
Plastic Bank, a Canadian organization has thought of a way to reduce plastic waste via innovative means. They’re currently operating in several countries, including Haiti and Peru and plan to expand to others in the future.
Plastic Bank has set up recycling centers where there’s foot traffic. People can bring empty water bottles and plastic cups or bags, put them in the machine and get digital tokens via a secure blockchain-based system. Tokens can be exchanged for food or for charging up your mobile devices. The plastic then is collected by a company that will reuse it for new goods.
In France, there are recycling station bins powered by blockchain technology in the Lyon Railway. The pilot program has shown promising results– around 2,000 euros were saved per station in just the first month.
Can The Blockchain Help With E-Waste Recycling?
While overall intentions are good, the current management isn’t immutable and therefore vulnerable to dishonest manipulation. One example is that a particular waste collection system may be ordered to process e-waste without having the transaction recorded.
This is where the blockchain can step in to help. The technology can be integrated within satellite recycling equipment, where people ‘deposit’ their old tech, e.g., smartphones, broken laptops or non-working items and get digital tokens in the process. Within the system, there’s no chance of tampering with the data once a blockchain is installed.
Blockchain Technology Equals Accountability and Immutability
If we ever want to put an end to the e-waste problem, then everyone will have to be in alignment when it comes to dedication. Unfortunately, some organizations will rather profit than help the environment with proper reuse and harvesting of parts in electronics. In this case, accountability can bring an end to the global epidemic.
With the blockchain, every data that’s entered into the system will be secure and immutable, which means that it cannot be changed. This kind of security ensures that there won’t be any tampering or discrepancy in an end-to-end scale, from the time an individual put in a plastic bottle to a recycling machine to collecting the material and turning it into something new. Pertinent details such as handler, type of e-waste and when it was collected will be saved and stored within a secure system.
Read about 4 easy ideas to recycle your electronic waste at the Green Living Blog.
The immutability of a blockchain will then streamline accountability across all platforms, from people to organizations and recycling centers alike. Once in place, there’s nothing else that people can do but save the world, one e-waste material at a time.