12 Oct 2018 - Empower is a blockchain alternative to the recycling system in Norway, where people are paid to return plastic bottles to shops. Collectors get paid a small amount of between 15 and 30 cents depending on the size of the plastic bottle returned. But the scheme has been wildly successful: 97 per cent of plastic bottles are returned. Plastic producers are incentivised to participate in the scheme by an environmental tax that they do not have to to pay if they collect 95 per cent of waste.
Through blockchain, Empower aims to take Norway’s native plastic exchange system global, rewarding anyone with plastic waste in tokens at certified recycling stations. “The reason we have a high recycling rate in Norway is that you learn from being a kid that plastic has a value, you can pick it up and buy some candy with it,” he says. “If we can do something like that in Indonesia, where people just drop plastic, we can give the value back to them.”
Empower is crowdfunding to open a collection point in Bali in time for the Our Ocean conference that will be attended by global world leaders at the end of October. It is not the only - nor the first - startup to see the synergy between blockchain and recycling.
The Plastic Bank was founded in Canada in 2013 to incentivise the cleanup of plastic waste in developing countries including the Philippines, Haiti, Brazil and South Africa. People returning waste to recycling centres are offered a reward in digital tokens hosted on blockchain, which they can use to purchase food or phone credit using an app. The plastic is sold to corporate clients who pay a premium over the usual price of recycling plastic and the surplus is passed on to collectors.