Plastic waste poses one of the biggest problems to our environment these days. Sometimes people wonder if and how they can do something to prevent these problems – just as Markus Gebhardt did. he has found a way to tackle this challenge by using IOTA’s cutting-edge technology.
Markus was inspired to do something against the “plastic challenge” when he was confronted with the huge piles of plastic lying around in his holiday destination’s beach. So he had an idea and asked others for help in realizing this idea on the internet – fortunately he found several people who are willing to make their dream of a better plastic waste recycling management come true: Deposy (which stands for Deposit System) has come to life.
CURRENT PROBLEMS WITH REGARD TO PLASTIC WASTE RECYCLING
Currently, 400 million tons of plastic are produced annually worldwide and plastic production is expected to double in the next 20 years. According to a study by management consultancy McKinsey, more than 30 percent of all plastic packaging does not enter an orderly recycling cycle, but is disposed elsewhere at the expense of nature. The experts estimate the resulting economic costs at 40 billion dollars per year. Micro-plastic particles produced during the decomposition of plastic waste are absorbed by humans and animals through nutrition and breathing air. According to experts, this entails increased health risks. […] The association believes that global plastic avoidance offers the greatest opportunity to restore the ecological balance. However, from a global perspective this is unfortunately an illusion, as scientists assume that plastic production will increase in the coming years. Looking at Europe, most plastic waste is either incinerated or shipped to Asia. A far too small percentage is actually recycled. (source: Deposy website)
Deposy’s idea is simple: Providing incentives to people to bring their plastic waste back to a disposal container and thereby ease the process of sorting and recycling plastic waste.
THE TECHNICAL SOLUTION
In order to pay for every single plastic product (be it a bottle, a bag or packaging) there must be some sort of validation mechanism. Deposy has decided to use QR-codes because they are easy to implement and their readability even in crumpled condition is 30% better than barcodes. This means that every plastic product would have a QR-code and could be read by a special disposal container. This would be a one-time-only code which gets invalidated once it was scanned to prevent people from using the same plastic piece multiple times for getting the reward. The data is then processed by a RaspberryPI inside the container and sent to IOTA’s distributed ledger from where it can be used by the companies/municipalities etc.
The consumer would use his/her smartphone to provide the needed payment address and would be paid in IOTA or the local currency for every plastic piece he/she returns for recycling.
Omoku.io provides an API which can be used for offering local currencies like EURO to pay for every single product. Admittedly, this will probably take some time since Omoku itself is still in a prototype-phase…but who knows what cool features Trinity 2.0 might have in this regard?
THE ROLE OF IOTA
The advantage of IOTA lies in it being a fast, scalable, secure and feeless solution. Identities for every single piece of plastic will be created and micropayments (even for fractions of a cent) can be made between machines. Theoretically, even private waste collectors could be paid for each individual plastic piece which they pick up – with no costs involved!
You could follow every single piece of plastic since all its “stations” are recorded on the distributed ledger and even payments would be registered as well – immutable and tamper-proof, of course. This creates the trust needed by companies who want to make money by being innovative and efficient when it comes to waste management. Only when all parties involved, whether it be companies, municipalities, or citizens, can be sure that such a system is fair and reliable will they ultimately become comfortable using it.
WHAT’S THE PROJECT’S CURRENT STATUS?
The team is currently focusing on programming the first prototype of a disposal container. Of course, they are also in contact with the plastic producers (who would need to attach QR-codes to their products) and recyclers (who would be happy to not have the issue of expensively sorting the different types of plastic waste anymore).
The team is also in contact with the Lidbot startup (which we have also covered already) because their distance sensor would enhance the recycling process by making the disposal containers even smarter when it comes to filling level indicators.
HOW CAN I HELP?
Financial support is more than welcome – in case you want to contact the team or share your experience in this sector, please contact them via their website. Apart from that, you can follow (and share/like…) the team on social media, of course.
We wish this committed team all the best and success for their endeavour!
For more information:
Fore more, watch the HelloIOTA Focus episode on Deposy: