IBM and Mitsui Chemicals Promotes a Good Economy with Blockchain
Mitsui Chemicals and IBM Japan have announced a collaboration to investigate blockchain technology to recycle plastics.
The cornerstone of a successful circular economy is resource recycling. Through reusing, restoring, reshaping, and recycling materials, the aim is to reduce (and ultimately eliminate) waste.
Given that the world generates 381 million tonnes of plastic waste per year, a figure projected to double by 2034 if nothing is done, encouraging circular economic models is becoming increasingly important.
The difficulty faced by businesses and governments attempting to change consumption behaviour toward circularity is that tracking the lifecycle of goods to ensure that they are reused sustainably is difficult.
Furthermore, knowing the exact chemical formula used in manufacturing is important for manufacturers and can be difficult when using recycled materials.
This is where blockchain shines since it provides manufacturers with information about the material’s life cycle and ensures that its chemical composition is accurate.
If data is correctly audited in advance, blockchain provides an additional layer of confidence in recycling statements and minimizes greenwashing for regulators and environmentally conscious customers.
Mitsui and IBM collaborate to create a database that monitors materials’ life cycles from their inception as raw materials to their sale, recycling, and reuse.
A function of the platform will be a visualization of manufacturing processes for recycling raw materials, physical properties, quality-related data, and inspection methods.
Mitsui Chemicals launched a Digital Transformation Division this month to accelerate digitization across the sector, focusing on business processes and supply chains.
This collaboration with IBM is a big move toward the Division’s target, in addition to improved sustainability practices.
“We want to exploit the wealth of experience and skill we’ve built up through our work with monomers and polymers, as well as the eco-friendly technologies and expertise we’re currently working on, including for recycling,” said Sambe Masao of Mitsui Chemicals.
“We will go about creating a resource circulation network that serves as a materials traceability mechanism, helping to bring about a circular economy, by integrating all of this with digital transformation technologies, most notably blockchain technology.”
Meanwhile, Circularise, a Dutch blockchain company, collaborates with German plastics companies DOMO and Covestro to use blockchain for plastic traceability.
Last year, the startup received €1.5 million ($1.8 million) in funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 initiative, and it has partnered with Porsche and the Japanese conglomerate Marubeni.