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Plastic Bank is promoting plastic recycling in developing nations via a blockchain-based system that lets locals trade collected plastic for goods and services, NBC News reported on October 16, 2018.

Plastic Bank Aims to Stop Waste from Ending up in the Ocean

          (Source: NBC News)


With 8 million metric tons of plastic debris ending up in the oceans each year, it’s no wonder why more and more startups are looking into ways to address the issue with the help of technology.

While there have been dozens of high-profile efforts to remove plastic waste that’s already in the oceans, one startup has taken a more proactive stance, looking to prevent the issue rather than deal with its consequences.

Plastic Bank is a Vancouver, British Columbia-based company that promotes plastic recycling in developing nations — which contribute disproportionately to the ocean plastic problem. The company plans on using a blockchain-based system to tackle the issue at its core.

According to an October 16 report from NBC News, Plastic Bank’s promising initiative lets locals trade collected plastic for health care, tuition, cooking oil and other goods and services.

The company’s co-founder David Katz said:

“We have to stop the flow of plastic from entering the ocean. And to do that, we need to go to areas leaching the most into the ocean and do what we can there.”

Promoting Plastic Recycling Through Blockchain

To address the problem of waste, Plastic Bank went to Haiti, where plastic waste is a particular problem, and set up 40-odd recycling centers. The collected plastic, however, is not exchanged for cash.

A blockchain platform developed in partnership with IBM records transactions in an encrypted digital ledger, with the digital tokens placed into an account via a mobile phone app and then used to make purchases.

Plastic Bank’s other co-founder, Shaun Frankson said that the system ensures safety and efficiency by staving out cash. Plastic collectors in Haiti get an above-market price for the waste, which can amount to $5 per day — a decent wage in a country where the average citizen lives on $2 a day.

Plastic Bank has taken in the equivalent of more than 100 million plastic bottles since it opened its first collection center in Haiti back in 2015. The collected plastic is processed into flakes or pellets and then exported to other countries, where it’s used to make new products.

To deal with the problem of a lack of buyers for the premium-priced pellet,  Plastic Bank has coined the designation “social plastic.” “This gives the consumer the ability to participate, just by buying something,” Katz said.