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Recycle and Earn, a new frontier for blockchain technology towards ESG goals

by SuperiorInvest

“Recycle to Earn” was the motto that Eric Vogel introduced earlier this month when presenting his startup at the European Blockchain Convention, decades after he started recycling plastic and cans from his grandmother’s house to earn extra money for a Game Boy.

Vogel’s love of video games and growing interest in the impact of recycling in the world is behind his inspiration for Circularr, a London-based company that seeks to connect recyclers, manufacturers and brands in a decentralized recycling ecosystem.

Proper recycling is an increasing challenge.According to According to the Plastic Waste Producers Index, worldwide recycling is not expanding fast enough to keep up with plastic waste, resulting in a greater chance of disposal in oceans, beaches and rivers than recycling. In 2021, more than 139 million metric tons of single-use plastic waste was produced worldwide.

The nearly three-year-old startup allows consumers to deposit plastic waste at collection points such as return machine manufacturers, recycling points and smart bins through partnerships. Containers are collected and sent to a recycling plant. However, this widely used process is now powered by blockchain technology.

Plastic waste is rewarded with a deflationary utility token that can be used to exchange for exclusive incentives and offers through the native wallet, such as free coffee or food, or to mint non-fungible tokens (NFTs) with basic data about recycled materials, such as its origin and plastic type, providing ultimate traceability of the recycling process.

“Plastics from a specific event or location could command an even higher price than a standard metric ton of recycled plastic because all the underlying data would be attached to it. So brands and organizations could recycle that plastic and make a limited edition set.” or key event merchandise,” Vogel told Cointelegraph, adding that:

“Using blockchain technology, it is possible to create a digital footprint that records every step of the recycling process, from waste collection to the sale of recycled materials.”

The concept earned the Circularr team recognition as Blockchain Startup of the Year at a European event. Recently also a startup accepted a $50 million investment commitment from alternative investment group GEM, providing liquidity and resources for a pilot materials recycling facility (MRF).

Similar efforts have been seen in other areas of the global environment, social and governance (ESG) agenda. Blockchain technology and automated systems are more and more used to improve efficiency and accuracy carbon market, which is a critical part of the fight against climate change. Vogel also noted that:

“Blockchain technology can help solve some of the problems associated with recycling, such as a lack of trust between stakeholders and difficulties in verifying the origin and quality of recycled materials.”

The circular facilities and other collection points are planned to be located at train stations and motorway service stations across the UK, as well as at tube stations and airports in the United States. Further partnerships with sports stadiums and events are also planned in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries.

The startup’s upcoming efforts include implementing on and off ramps with partners that will allow users to exchange tokens for other cryptocurrencies and fiat money, as well as a track and trace system planned for the second half of 2023.

Gamification of the recycling process is also one of the startup’s goals, targeting brands that aim to reward users with tokens and prizes for their recycled waste. “It all started with the Game Boy and the desire to make a difference. And now here we are, working towards a better, more circular economy.”

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