Como el blockchain puede acabar con el problema mundial de basura

Como el blockchain puede acabar con el problema mundial de basura

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El contenido de este articulo está sujeto a una licencia  Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

La teccnologia Blockchain puede hacer realidad una sociedad descentrada y sostenible. En este articulo presento mi propuesta para solucionar el gran problema de residuos para hoy y para el futuro.


Cuando era pequeño una de mis peores pesadillas era la de encontrarme viviendo en un mundo repleto de basura por todas partes. Desgraciadamente casi 30 años despues esto es una triste realidad. Si miras en tu calle seguro que verás contenedores rebosando de basura mezclada , y es posible encontrar de todo.

Quizas hayas visto un panorama similar. ¿Como te has sentido ? Impotente, enfadado o simplemente contrariado. Por lo menos has sentido algo de empatia . La mayoria de la gente solo quiere quitarse la basura de encima sin pensar en las consecuencias . En paises del tercer mundo donde no hay servicios de recogida de basuras, reciclar es un lujo, y solo lo mas valioso desde un punto de vista economico se recicla, lo demas, si como te imaginas, acaba en un vertedero, y de ahi al mar, etc.

Quizás nos gustaria pensar que eso no ocurre en ciudades «modernas», pero esto no es asi, y desde Nueva York hasta Tokyo, tenemos ocurriendo estos panoramas también.

En paises como Suiza , donde contaminar y no reciclar está prohibido por la ley , es dificil ver lo mismo, pero en paises de  la Union europea donde la ley es mas permisisva , como en mi  pais, España ( aunque no está tan mal como en Italia ) ir a echar la basura a un contenedor es de lo más desagradable, y es comun ver plastico en donde no tiene que ir, etc.

En Suiza está prohibido no reciclar con multas y hasta carcel, y por ello hay una alta tasa de reciclaje , siendo la segunda más alta de la UE , detrás de Alemania donde la tasa es de un 75%.

Por supuesto, no todo se recicla, pero al menos la tasa de reciclaje es mucho mayor que en España.

A “garbage Armageddon” (garbageddon) is here right now and probably at your favorite holiday destination too. You may have to bathe in plastic trash instead of azure waters soon if we don’t do something about it. You may have to find out that the fish dish you order at the hotel’s restaurant is full of plastic chemicals going directly to your stomach then to your bloodstream and sit in your body forever waiting to start cancer in your organism.

We can’t easily resolve this issue by just cleaning up the ocean, as initiatives like the Ocean Cleanup are trying to do, because there is a lot of plastic laying at the bottom of the sea floating between algae that cant is recovered with simple and economic means.

In order to prevent that this scneario gets worse, we need to act at the root of the problem, on the solid ground where we initially produce the trash.

We have become too dependent on plastic and other materials during many generations and as we have avoided the issue now we are really starting to see the price to be paid. We are indeed accomplices to this crime against our planet.

Do we need to get worse? Everywhere we are hearing about global warming, which is a HUGE issue we also need to solve, but this «Garbageddon» as I call it, is also an urgent one. The plastic issue may soon be irreversible and many others in this fast-evolving situation.

Thinking long-term, for the future of our children

How can blockchain technology help tackle this problem? The blockchain is a technology that dates back to 2008 which allows keeping track of transactions securely between 2 or more peers. A ‘peer’  describes a person, a company, an institution or an automated machine.

The great part about i is that it does not need banks or centralized servers to provide the service, and thus it can work as a self-regulated network made out of the peer’s communications. Its analogous to a distributed database where the “nodes” manage the data. All the peers in the network manage the changes happening inside the network and regulated by consensus algorithms.

At any time all of the peers of the blockchain can verify that all the public information inside the blockchain is correct and that it follows the consensus algorithm and complies to the network rules set up by the creators of the network. The first use of the Blockchain was Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency that allowed anyone to make anonymous and safe transactions without a bank. Its applications led to start a true financial revolution that is now affecting how society will function in the future.

At the beginning of its birth, the term cryptocurrency was reserved to geeks. Today there are many globally accepted crypto-currencies of which values constantly change due to the global demand. Just to name a few, there is BitcoinCash, Ethereum, Monery, Ripple, and so many more! Many companies have even created their own cryptocurrencies in order to get funding at the early stage in which is commonly called «Initial Coin Offerings» or ICO’s.

Many ICOs have gone viral and helped companies startup quickly without any big investement companies. So many applications of this tech are appearing every day, that it would take a lot of space to name them all, but this is proof that this tech is getting stronger every day, and its a good time to invest in it and help it develop. Legal, medical, logistics and many more other sectors are adopting it. Big companies like IBM are offering cloud services to host blockchains.

This tech requires lots of computing power, but the beauty of the Blockchain is that it can be absolutely independent of any centralized systems, and peers can act collectively as nodes of a vast global supercomputer that provides the calculations to compute it.

Of course, big names like Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, want to take the biggest piece in this «crypto cake» and offer their supercomputers to host privately owned blockchains, but the beauty of it would be if no-one was truly able to monopolize it. There is a huge battle going on between those who want a fully distributed and decentralized blockchain system and those who want to monopolize it in order to gain strategic control.

The aim of BGMS I propose is to be as truly independent of any corporation An option for this in the longterm is for it to be entirey managed by an autonmous artificial intelligence.

Who are the key actors in the global trash crisis situation?

Until now producers were the main actors in all issues pertaining to garbage. Producers were the ones who initially generated trash making the products and materials. As the consumer and industrial products became more by sophisticated adding many types of combined parts and materials, they became even harder and more costly to recycle.

We know for sure that, in the case of plastics,  91%  of it is not recycled, globally according to the National Geographic article «A Whopping 91% of Plastic Isn’t Recycled».

Due to the recycling costs, most of the products finish their lifecycle piled up on landfills or junkyards or sitting on some beach waiting to be picked up whenever.

The Politicians and lawmakers. give permission to manufacturers and allow products to enter the market. Their political decisions need to satisfy both consumers and manufactures and often fail to take into account the full ecological impact, letting nature decide what to do with the trash.

This is unfair for nature, which has always generated decomposing materials! Sadly politicians are «victims» of lobbyists, the agents of what politically correct we can describe as legalized bribery with a tint of conflict of interest. Many so-called modern “democracies” allow politicians to favor companies that spend a lot of time convincing them.

Consumers are the most important of all actors as they really have the final decision. Most of the time, consumers are badly informed, and blatantly framed by producers. E.g: apple producers fool them into thinking for example that plastic wrapped apples are ecologically friendly because they are organic, or that buying apple juice contained in TETRA PAK is ecologically sound because it’s turned into furniture.

Producers provide the minimum legally requested information in the labels of their products. They know that many consumers nowadays would stop buying their products if they knew the whole impact on the environment.  Sometimes producers are not aware themselves of their own impact! The truth is that if it weren’t for actions made by ecologist groups such during decades, producers would still be carrying on with their polluting activities.

Then there are of course uncaring consumers, who could not care less about recycling. They throw trash anywhere, never separate it, and don’t feel remorseful of their acts. This behavior is not as rare as we may think and is still going on. and we can’t blame the producers.

The other actors in this game are caring consumers that would even recycle more if they had more options. Happily, these amazing people know of this huge problem and are helping manufacturers transition to what is called a Circular Economy.

Still, not enough manufacturers are adopting it. The philosophy of the circular economy is the ultimate goal of any truly sustainable society. Consumers today throw aways tons of garbage that will not be recycled and end up in seas, rivers, lakes and ultimately in your food.

We need to take action today before it is really too late and we are witnessing «garbaggedon» in person.

The BGMS in detail

The Blochain Garbage Management System (BGMS) aims to offer incentives to consumers that recycle by using the blockchain for tracking their spendings and recycling habits.

It rewards recycling recycle but also penalizes the failure to do so. In today’s world, the consumer buys the product and is free to throw it away wherever they want. If they are conscious consumers they w ill choose, if available, a recycling container, or another one.

Today the consumers recycling habits cannot be tracked, with the Global Blockchain Management System this can easily be done. Here is how. The system will follow this scheme proposal but can vary adopting any other complementary technologies such as A.I.

Process description:

      1. The consumer buys a product at a shop or a supermarket with a personally identifiable form of payment. ( Payment card, or provide ID )
      2. His/her purchase list is linked to a BGMS unique consumer id which is stored in the BGMS blockchain securely and in a decentralized way.
      3. The consumer uses the product and takes the trash generated to the appropriate recycling container.
        1. BAD behavior: the consumer throws it away without the intention of recycling it. E.g: throws it on the ground, a trash can, and never gets recycled.
        2. GOOD behavior: the consumer chooses the correct dumpster.Smart nano rfID chips Hitachi Smart Dust Technology made of tiny RFID chips that can serve to track anything with NFC[/caption]
      4. In order to check if the product gets recycled the BGMS implies the usage of smart recycling containers and of nano rfID (nRFid) chips.
        1. The smart container scans the trash being thrown and detects whether it is going to the correct place.
        2. To allow this a nano RFID chip is placed on the product packaging or also in the actual product (at the manufacturing stage of the product)
          1. -Worldwide known manufacturer Hitachi has been able to build tiny nano RIFD chips (nRFID) that can store data and are readable with NFC devices such as smartphones. The storage capacity of these tiny chips is enough to store enough data for all the different products sold in the world today and in the future.
          2. The nRIFD chip can be thermo-glued to the product packaging or onto the product in some situations. For this purpose, an insertion system is set up by the product manufacturer for automation. For some products, more than one chip may be needed so that all parts of the packaging, but more importantly the ones that have a bigger ecological impact, (like plastic wraps, etc ) can be tracked.
        3. The nRIFD chip is then scanned by the Smart Containers at the entry point in the container. If the information stored in the nano-chip is correct, the container will count is as correctly submitted, otherwise, it will alert the user, and will not allow the entrance of the piece of garbage.
        4. The smart containers act as peer nodes of the Blockchain and connect remotelessly and wirelessly to each other. They act as nodes of the network and communicate using the smart city’s wireless network or via satellite.
          They need to be built for durability and incorporate powerful CPUs inside. They update the user’s purchase list marking each of the consumers thrown trash as “recycled”.
      5. Rewards for recyclers

        1. Once the trash is accepted inside the container the recycler ( the person who takes the trash to the container ) receives tokens in his personal BGMS account which they can trade for perks like goods, discounts, prices etc in affiliate shops, organizations, state tax, etc.
          All of this is managed automatically by the dApp ( dynamic apps ) installed in the user’s phone or in a wearable  IoT device worn by the user.
        2. This is aimed at motivating the user to recycle. Socially conscious shops could be affiliates and accept the BGMS tokens given to the reycler. This can result in an even more social positive impact.
        3. The shops that accept the tokens help to increase their positive public image which will most probably increase their sales They may receive special tax discounts for participating as well.
        4. The BGMS blockchain stores the consumer’s recycling balance in order to track it. If the consumer’s recycling balance is negative (which means they aren’t recycling more than they are polluting) they will have negative credit, which will result in fines or limitations in certain benefits that recyclers receive.There is no real punishment here, no fines, no jail, just a reduction of social benefits.
        5. The BGMS updates each purchase list regularly. The consumer’s purchase history is erased as needed when it has been dealt with so that no unnecessary information is kept in the blockchain, releasing the workload.
          The consumer may have the option to export their purchasing list out of the blockchain for their administratering needs.
        6. The consumer’s information in the BGMS blockchain is private, and no other human than the consumer may know the contents of his own purchase list. All the information is encrypted with their personal encrypting key.
        7. Only non-sensitive public information can be accessed without the private key, for statistical purposes and benchmarking of the BGMS system.
      6. Emptying and recycling

        1. The smart container automatically communicates with the BGMS and updates the consumer’s information.When the smart container is completely full, it will communicate wirelessly ( satellite connection or any other network ) with the network which will send a truck to empty the container (an AI self-driven electric truck could be also used in the future )Trash is then taken to the recycling facility, where an automatic system can scan the nRIFD information, and easily trim each piece of trash to the right section in the facility.As the trash has already passed through the first trim process, it will be easier to separate even more effectively at the facility.
        2. When each piece of gargage has been sorted correctly, the nRIFD chips can be removed. A process to retrieve the chips can be set up in place in the recycling plant.This may eventually require an additional module built ìnside the plant. The nChips are sent to the manufacturer and can be used many times or even recycled.
        3. It may be also possible in the near future to use nRFID chips made out of graphene which will be highly recyclable and thus limit any recycling cost.
      7. The recyclers role
        The recycler is the person who finally takes the trash to the smart container. The recycler is not necessarily the person who bought the product in the first place.

        This is an important aspect of the BGMS philosophy related to the sharing economy. The concept itself represents a huge change in today’s paradigm.

        With the BGMS anyone can be rewarded for recycling anything they find on their way.

        Let me portray this with the following example: Imagine walking in the forest, and find a can of coke on the ground. You have two options: you either pick it up or leave it there. With BGMS you can pick it and bring it to the nearest available ( not full ) smart container.
        You can use your BGMS app and link it to your own BGMS id. When you take it to the smart container you’ll be rewarded with tokens linked to that products recycling BGMS value!

      8. Security concerns

        What happens if a hacker wants to hack the system? If hackers ever tried to modify the chip information of a product’s nano RFID they would not succeed unless they compromised the manufacturer’s security, as only the manufacturer can change RFID information after the product has been released to the public.

        The change in the information is made public to the BGMS so anyone in the community can verify the blockchain and sound the hack alar.

      9. This can be achieved because the information in the RFID is encrypted with a private manufacturer’s key and a public one.In order to change the product’s information in the RFID chip, both keys need to be used and only the manufacturer has them. To do this an NFC BGMS compliant manufacturers device needs to be used and only by using the BGMS manufacturers access the app.The nRFID chips do not store any of the consumer’s private information. All that it contains is information relating to what kind of material, and other technical specs needed by the BGMS.These tech specs need to be set up at a BGMS Consortium linking manufacturers, governments and ecologist associations. A big joint effort needs to happen in order for this system to work.  Everyone is welcome to join!
      1. Infographics

        BGMS diagram
    1. Conclusion

      The potential of the BGMS technology for garbage disposal is enormous. My dream is to see the world working as a living organism in which humans are capable of living in symbiosis with it inside a circular economy.

      We don’t really know where we are going as a species,  all we can do is preserve our ecosystem.  The Earth is our common mother, from whose womb we humans are born. If you would like to take part in this project please don’t hesitate to contact me for further details about a collaboration. I am also open to any other projects that could be better than BGMS.

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R. Puig

Conscious marketer and entrepreneur