Asahi Kasei Pharma partnered with IBM Japan to develop Blue Plastics, a digital platform to promote a circular economy by tracing recycled plastic material using blockchain. Other members of the project include Toyama Environmental Improvements, Mobius Packaging, and Lion.
A prototype of the project has already been completed. Through the scan of a QR code on the packaging, consumers get access to blockchain data that confirms the usage rate of recycled plastic and gives insight into the recycling process.
The first demonstration experiment of the platform will be for toiletry bottle packaging, which is often discarded by households. One potential feature is to award points to consumers to encourage them to recycle and shift consumer behavior.
Additionally, a trial to distribute recycled plastic is expected to be carried out in March of 2022.
Each member in the project, with the exception of IBM, is involved in some aspect of the manufacturing process. Asahi Kasei will be responsible for project promotion, Lion will work on cooperation with brands, Mobius Packaging is responsible for creating the packaging, and Toyama Environmental’s role is focused on the recycling manufacturing process of the plastic. IBM will provide support for the digital platform.
Asahi is looking to collaborate with other companies, government agencies, and industry groups on the initiative, and eventually expand it internationally.
Meanwhile, last month Mitsui Chemicals announced a partnership with IBM Japan to use blockchain to recycle plastic. The initiative is also emphasizing the need to promote a circular economy.
Besides IBM, Dutch startup Circularise has significant ground in the plastic traceability industry. The blockchain firm announced a partnership with Japanese conglomerate Marubeni earlier this year to trace materials in the chemicals and plastics supply chain. Circularise also has a project with Porsche for plastic traceability and won €1.5 million ($1.8m) in funding from EU’s Horizon 2020 program.