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IBM, Mitsui Chemicals, Nomura Research start plastic recycling blockchain consortium

plastic recycling waste

IBM JapanMitsui Chemicals and Nomura Research Institute (NRI) have announced a consortium to explore the uses of blockchain in plastic material recycling.

Around 400 million tons of plastic are produced each year, and of this, just 14%-18% is recycled globally, according to the World Economic Forum. Finding a way to reuse and recycle this waste is crucial to a successful circular economy.

The problem lies with the complex nature of the recycling supply chain. Manufacturers need to know the exact chemical composition used in production, which is difficult when using recycled materials.

The presence of many stakeholders, inefficiencies and a lack of digital data also makes it tricky to ensure supply chain visibility and traceability.

Blockchain technology steps in because it allows activity to be traced on a decentralized ledger, providing traceability and accountability. It also provides manufacturers with data about the lifecycle of the material and assurance of its chemical composition.

The consortium will provide support for market stakeholders by holding study groups and demonstration experiments of the blockchain platform. It also hopes to leverage its market share to build an incentive-based system for companies that have contributed to resource recycling.

This is not the first time that Mitsui and IBM have partnered on a blockchain platform for plastic material recycling. In April, the two companies collaborated to develop a platform to track the life cycles of materials from their complete raw form to subsequent recycling and reuse.

The addition of NRI, an IT service provider and consulting firm, will secure market knowledge to best develop the blockchain platform. NRI is not new to blockchain, but its main involvement has been with BOOSTRY, a Japanese blockchain platform for bond issuance.

In April, Mitsui Chemicals established a Digital Transformation Division, aimed at speeding digitization across the company with a special focus on business operations and supply chains. The formation of this new consortium marks significant progress towards the Division’s goal.

Meanwhile, yesterday IBM Japan announced another partnership with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to explore the use of blockchain in recycling CO2.

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