Blockchain plastic traceability startup Circularise launched a project with Porsche and some of its material suppliers, including Borealis, Covestro and Domo Chemicals to trace plastics and ensure sustainable materials are used in Porsche car production. The project is part of the Startup Autobahn innovation program.
“We need to know more details on the parts and materials being used in our products, that means information on production processes deep down the supply chain, statements of recycled content and more,” said Antoon Versteeg, Project Lead Innovation Research at Porsche.
Batches of materials are digitized onto the blockchain creating a digital copy or digital twin containing the information about the environmental footprint and origin. Parties can update the twin along the supply chain, reflecting the entire manufacturing process.
One of the challenges of sharing information from the supply chain is the conflict between consumer transparency at the cost of supplier and producer privacy. For example, the materials’ source is an important transparency aspect for manufacturers and consumers alike. However, a product’s material composition may be of competitive advantage and suppliers might not be willing to share it. To address this concern, Circularise developed a patent pending platform that creates verified statements on public blockchains without revealing any underlying data.
Smart Questioning uses Zero-Knowledge Proofs to allow communication between the parties without leaking confidential data and preserving private information about business relationships.
An important aspect of the project is that the batches of materials need to be audited by an independent third party. “Several years from now, after these systems are in place on a wider scale, things will have been standardized,” said Christopher McWardle, VP at manufacturer Borealis. “For now, it’s still early days. Auditors and certifications are essential to ensure that no one can engage in greenwashing”
Circularise recently received €1.5 million ($1.8m) in funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 program. The company was also accepted into an accelerator by the Alliance to End Plastic Waste due to the collaboration with Coverstro and DOMO. The companies have been piloting a blockchain solution for plastic traceability since the beginning of 2020.
Meanwhile, Porsche is involved in another blockchain sustainability project with Circular Tree and its solution, CarbonBlock, which won the Global Innovation Award by Plug and Play. The award is also part of the Startup Autobahn initiative.
Some other plastics-oriented DLT solutions are from the German association BIOTA which developed a system using DLT and IoT devices to incentivize plastic waste collection, and BASF is working on a blockchain for recycling plastics.