Blockchain for Solid Waste Traceability and Transparency

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Blockchain technology is being increasingly applied to enhance transparency and traceability in solid waste management systems. By creating a secure and immutable record of waste movement and transactions, blockchain can help track waste from its origin to its final disposal or recycling destination, ensuring accountability, reducing illegal dumping, and promoting responsible waste management practices.

Impact on climate action

Blockchain for Waste Traceability and Transparency revolutionizes solid waste management by enhancing accountability and transparency. It enables tracking waste from generation to disposal, reducing illegal dumping and promoting recycling. This innovation fosters trust among stakeholders, accelerates the adoption of sustainable practices, and ultimately contributes to mitigating climate change.


  • Decentralized Ledger: Blockchain functions as a decentralized, distributed ledger, meaning that data is stored across a network of computers rather than in a single, central location. This makes the system more secure and resistant to tampering.
  • Immutability: Once data is recorded on the blockchain, it cannot be altered or deleted, ensuring the integrity and authenticity of the waste tracking information.
  • Smart Contracts: Smart contracts are self-executing agreements stored on the blockchain. They can automate transactions and ensure that predefined conditions are met at each stage of the waste management process, improving efficiency and accountability.
  • Tokenization: Waste materials or recycling credits can be tokenized on the blockchain, representing digital assets that can be traded or exchanged, creating economic incentives for responsible waste management.

TRL : 6-7

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Waste Origin Verification: Blockchain can be used to verify the origin of waste materials, ensuring that they come from legitimate sources and helping to combat illegal dumping and waste trafficking.
  • Recycling Chain Transparency: By tracking materials throughout the recycling process, blockchain can provide transparency into the entire recycling chain, ensuring that materials are being properly processed and recycled.
  • Plastic Credits and Incentives: Tokenized plastic credits can be awarded to individuals and businesses for responsible plastic waste disposal or recycling, creating economic incentives for sustainable practices.
  • Supply Chain Due Diligence: Blockchain can enhance due diligence in the waste management supply chain, enabling businesses to verify the environmental and ethical practices of their waste management partners.

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. RecycleGo:
    • Technology Enhancement: RecycleGo utilizes blockchain technology to track the journey of recycled materials from collection to processing to final reuse or recycling. By recording each step of the process on the blockchain, they ensure transparency and traceability in the recycling supply chain.
    • Uniqueness: RecycleGo’s blockchain solution provides a tamper-proof and immutable record of transactions and movements of recycled materials, which enhances trust among stakeholders and helps combat issues like greenwashing.
    • End-User Segments Addressed: RecycleGo primarily serves municipalities, waste management companies, recycling facilities, and businesses looking to improve the transparency and sustainability of their supply chains.
  2. Plastic Bank:
    • Technology Enhancement: Plastic Bank leverages blockchain technology to create a digital marketplace where individuals can exchange collected plastic waste for digital tokens or rewards. These tokens can then be used to purchase goods and services or exchanged for fiat currency.
    • Uniqueness: Plastic Bank’s blockchain platform incentivizes plastic waste collection by providing monetary or non-monetary rewards, thereby empowering communities to participate in plastic waste reduction efforts while also providing opportunities for economic empowerment.
    • End-User Segments Addressed: Plastic Bank targets communities in developing countries where plastic pollution is prevalent, as well as consumer goods companies looking to source recycled plastic for their products.
  3. Circularise:
    • Technology Enhancement: Circularise utilizes blockchain and cryptographic technologies to create a decentralized network for tracking and tracing materials and products throughout their lifecycle. This allows for transparency in material sourcing, manufacturing processes, and end-of-life disposal or recycling.
    • Uniqueness: Circularise’s blockchain solution enables supply chain transparency without exposing sensitive or proprietary information. It also facilitates collaboration among stakeholders while protecting data privacy and intellectual property.
    • End-User Segments Addressed: Circularise serves industries such as electronics, automotive, textiles, and plastics, where material traceability and sustainability are becoming increasingly important for regulatory compliance and consumer trust.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
    • Research Focus: MIT’s exploration of Blockchain for Waste Traceability and Transparency centers on developing a decentralized ledger system to track the movement of waste materials throughout the supply chain, from generation to disposal or recycling.
    • Uniqueness: MIT’s research emphasizes the integration of blockchain technology with Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices and sensors to create a transparent and immutable record of waste transactions. By leveraging blockchain’s security and transparency features, MIT’s approach enhances trust among stakeholders and enables more efficient waste management practices.
    • End-use Applications: MIT’s technology has applications across various sectors, including municipal waste management, industrial waste tracking, and electronic waste recycling. For instance, their system can facilitate the tracking of hazardous materials from manufacturing facilities to recycling centers, ensuring proper handling and disposal in compliance with regulations.
  2. Stanford University:
    • Research Focus: Stanford’s research on Blockchain for Waste Traceability and Transparency aims to enhance accountability and sustainability in waste management by leveraging blockchain technology to create a transparent and auditable record of waste transactions.
    • Uniqueness: Stanford’s approach integrates blockchain with advanced data analytics and machine learning techniques to derive insights from waste tracking data. By analyzing patterns and trends, their system can identify inefficiencies in waste management processes and suggest optimizations for resource recovery and recycling.
    • End-use Applications: Stanford’s technology can be applied in various waste management scenarios, including municipal recycling programs, industrial supply chains, and electronic waste disposal. For example, their system enables municipalities to monitor the flow of recyclable materials and incentivize proper recycling practices through rewards or incentives.
  3. University of Oxford:
    • Research Focus: The University of Oxford’s research on Blockchain for Waste Traceability and Transparency focuses on leveraging blockchain technology to create a decentralized platform for recording and verifying waste transactions, thereby enhancing transparency and accountability in waste management.
    • Uniqueness: Oxford’s research emphasizes the development of smart contracts on the blockchain to automate waste management processes, such as invoicing, payments, and compliance verification. This automation reduces administrative overhead and minimizes the risk of fraud or errors in waste transactions.
    • End-use Applications: Oxford’s technology finds applications in various waste management contexts, including supply chain management, waste collection, and recycling certification. For instance, their platform enables recyclers to prove the authenticity and sustainability of recycled materials, thus increasing market demand for recycled products.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

While still in its early stages, the commercial implementation of blockchain for waste traceability and transparency is gaining traction. Several pilot projects and initiatives are underway, demonstrating the potential of this technology to revolutionize waste management practices and promote a more circular and sustainable approach.