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Blockchain technology for rubbish disposal

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As a child, one of my worst nightmares was finding myself living in a world full of garbage all around. Sadly today, this nightmare is quite a real one.

Look no farther from the containers in your street,  if you’re lucky, they are only just overflowing with some cardboard and small canisters, plastic wraps,  boxes, drink leftovers, but if you’re not,  you could find anything, and I literally mean “anything”.

If you’ve witnessed a similar panorama too, how did you feel? Powerless? Angry or just annoyed? If you felt anything you already did a good thing, at least you showed some empathy! Most people will only follow the flow to get rid of their trash no matter how. Think in terms of third world countries where there is no public service to pick up the trash, where recycling is really a luxury and where it is the lowest casts of society that take on the dirty jobs .

We would think that in our first-world cities, this wouldn’t happen, but from New York to Tokyo, we see similar panoramas in the streets, not as crude as in really poor countries, but not far behind.

When I traveled to Naples in 2016 I could not believe my eyes, when I saw the Dantesque landscape of the streets of this once flourishing empire, now left to its corrupt politicians will decide on the city’s waste management budget in uncertain manners, that leave the city as the trash pit it turned to be.

In Switzerland where polluting and failing to recycle is prohibited by law, its hard to see this kind of panorama,  at least, but in countries where the law is handled “slightly” less seriously ( irony intended ), like in Spain ( still not as bad as in Italy though) you will often have to shrug your face while walking next to the dumpsters.

Switzerland prohibits and punishes people’s bad recycling habits with fines and even jail time and this is a reason why it is so tidy and neat and why the country has the second-highest recycling rate in the European Union after Germany with an official 75%.

Of course, not everything is recycled, but at least you won’t see dumpsters filled with anything but the intended type of trash its meant for.

A “garbage Armageddon” or garbageddon as I call it, is here right now and probably at your favorite holiday destination as well. Sorry to alarm you, but sooner than you think you may have to bathe in plastic trash instead of azure waters.

You may find out that the fish you ordered at the hotel restaurant had plastics that went into your stomach then to your bloodstream to end up forever somewhere in your system waiting to start cancer when you don’t expect it.

Unfortunately, we won’t easily solve this issue just cleaning up the ocean, which initiatives like the Ocean Cleanup claim they can do, as there is too much plastic laying at the bottom of the sea and floating between algae which can’t be recovered by simple and economical means.

In order to prevent this scenario from getting worse, we should act at the root of the problem, on solid ground where we initially produce the trash. We need to think deeper before we produce anything at all. Sadly, due to the fever of capitalism, this won’t happen soon enough to stop the #garbageddon, which today as of 30.06.22, is already unfolding.

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 this 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 term blockchain is the name of a technology that dates back to 2008 and which allows keeping track of transactions securely between 2 or more peers, where a ‘peer’  is a person, a company, an institution, or an automated machine or piece of software.

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

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 with the network rules set up by the creators of the network.

The first use of the Blockchain was to fuel the Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency that allows anyone to make anonymous and safe transactions without a centralized 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 for 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, Monero, Ripple, and 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 to startup quickly without any the help of investment funds. 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 other sectors are adopting it. Big companies like IBM are offering cloud services to host blockchains and day by day there are new services born based on the blockchain.

Nonetheless, for this tech to correctly function lots of computing power is required, but the beauty of the Blockchain is that it can be absolutely independent of any centralized system, and peers can act collectively as nodes of a vast global supercomputer that provides the calculations to compute all the calculations needed by 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 get the monopoly of it.

There is a huge battle going on between those who want a fully distributed and globally decentralized blockchain system and those who want to gain strategic control.

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 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 manufacturers and often fail to take into account their full ecological impact, letting nature decide what to do with the trash.

This is unfair for nature, which has always generated self 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 their time in 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 something 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 them if they knew the whole impact on the environment they had.

Sometimes producers are not aware of their own impact! The truth is that if it weren’t for actions made by ecologist groups 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, it’s the consumer’s fault.

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

Unfortunately, not enough manufacturers are adopting this great model. The philosophy of the circular economy is the ultimate goal of any truly sustainable society where consumers and producers are socially responsible and work with nature, not against it.

The BGMS in detail

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

The aim of BGMS is to be as truly independent of any corporation An option for this in the longterm is for it to be entirely managed by an autonomous artificial intelligence and completely blockchain-based.

It will reward recycling but also penalize 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 will choose, if available, a recycling container and help their environment.

Unfortunately, the consumer’s recycling habits cannot be tracked, but using the Global Blockchain Management System BGMS this could easily be achieved.

Here is a  detailed list of the procedure according to a simple case scenario I have envisioned but may vary its operative adopting any other complementary technologies such as A.I.

      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 container.{“type”:”block”,”srcIndex”:1,”srcClientId”:”914e3241-d473-4466-a6cc-b4f775fd841a”,”srcRootClientId”:””}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 it as correctly submitted, otherwise, it will alert the user, and will not allow the entrance of the piece into the incorrect container.
        4. The smart containers act as peer nodes of the Blockchain and connect 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. They update the user’s purchase list marking each of the consumers thrown trash as “recycled”.
      5. Rewards for recyclers and penalties to polluters

        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 in affiliate shops, organizations, state tax reductions, etc, etc.
          All of this is managed automatically by the dApp ( dynamic apps ) installed on the user’s phone or in a wearable IoT device.
        2. This is aimed at motivating the user to recycle. Socially conscious shops could be affiliates and accept the BGMS tokens given to the recycler. This can result in an even more socially positive impact.
        3. The shops that accept the tokens help 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 administrating 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 of the facility.As the trash has already passed through the first separating process, it will be easier to separate it even more effectively at the facility.
        2. When each piece of garbage has been sorted out 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 nRFIDs are sent to the manufacturer and can be used many times or even recycled, as they are made of recyclable materials.
        3. It may be also possible in the near future to use nRFID chips made out of graphene which will be very highly recyclable and thus limit any recycling cost.
      7. The recyclers role
        The recycler is the role of 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 along their way, in the street or in the countryside.

        Imagine walking in the forest and find a can 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 smart container.

        You can use your BGMS smartphone app which is linked to your own BGMS id. When you take the can to the smart container you’ll be rewarded with tokens linked to that product 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. because only the manufacturer can change the  RFID information after the product has been released to the public, it’s up to the manufacture to ensure the security of their BGMS compatible supply chain security.

        Any change in the information is made public to the BGMS blockchain community and therefore anyone in the community can verify the data is correct and that the change is approved by the consensus rules.

      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 can have the private key.To do this an NFC BGMS compliant manufacturer device needs to be used and only by using the BGMS manufacturers can 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 regular event where manufacturers, governments, and ecologist associations can decide on the rules and regulations of the system. A big joint effort needs to occur in order for this system to work.  Everyone is welcome to join!

      1. Infographics to explain the BGMS

        BGMS diagram
    1. Conclusion

      The potential of 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 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