Blockchain technology will “revolutionise” the trade of recyclable materials by providing each part of the supply chain with vital data and assurance about the quality of secondary commodities, according to the Recycling Association.
A new blockchain technology, “The Traca” – developed by The Recycling Association and Marine Transport International – is being hailed by the Association as a “new solution” to allow recycling companies to provide essential information to producers, recyclers, regulators and the end destination.
This data initially includes the verified gross mass (VGM) and electronic Annex VII form. Eventually it will incorporate any information that is essential for compliance, such as inspection data and photos, the Association says.
“The Traca” solution has been developed to match the requirements of the UK Government’s Resources & Waste Strategy.
A successful trial of the blockchain system has been completed by Potters Bar firm CS Recycling, which saw seven containers of paper loaded at Potters Bar and shipped abroad.
The Association says the system cut admin time from hours to minutes, while also giving all relevant parties access to the data and documentation that was relevant for them.
The Recycling Association chief executive Simon Ellin said: “We are an increasingly regulated industry, and data is the only way the wheels turn smoothly. We rely on it to be true and accurate, but when it passes through different parties and becomes third, fourth or fifth hand information, there’s rarely anything to prove its provenance.
“Therefore, for our members to be compliant and sustainable, we need a system that is transparent from cradle (the producer) to grave (the reprocessor). This solution can achieve that. Everyone involved in the shipment, from load point to customs; carrier to port operator; and shipper to end user, can review, trust and update data as required, with every change captured for all to see.
“Furthermore, the government has indicated in its recently published Resources and Waste Strategy that the regulator will be moving to an electronic Annex VII system over the next few years anyway. The Traca is set up to facilitate this process.”
The solution uses smart contracts, which write the terms of an agreement directly into the system. That means that once the terms have been met, the next step of the agreement (whether payment, creation of an industry document or the release of data) is automatically triggered.
With these contracts built into the blockchain ledger the solution is based on, all parties can trust that each step will automatically occur once the previous conditions have been met.
Developed by Marine Transport International and based on Activeledger, a distributed ledger technology, the solution builds on MTI’s SOLAS VGM product, which it launched three years ago and allows users to quickly input, verify and share VGM data.
For MTI founder and chief executive Jody Cleworth, the key is the adaptor, which enables these industry processes to be automated, incorporating blockchain smart contracts and to plug into existing systems without significant disruption.
He added: “Recycling logistics is a complex sector with a multitude of systems and processes. If we went in asking people to deploy yet more software, yet another login, they wouldn’t be interested. By developing this adaptor, we’re able to easily connect existing applications with the solution.
“Employees can carry on with their normal processes, and the adaptor automates that data between the various actors, with the smart contracts verifying the information accordingly. This way, we have a clear operational cost saving between all parties that are using the solution and the ability to deliver trusted data into the multitude of industry systems.”
One the first users of the solution is Visy – a packaging and resource recovery company with offices and sites across Europe, Australia, the US, New Zealand and Thailand.
Its European director Neil Govan said: “As an exporter, we spend a huge amount of time creating shipment information and then sharing it with other parts of the chain. Everyone needs information in different ways, with different systems.
“With The Traca, we’ll be able to upload, verify and share data in minutes, dramatically speeding up both our own internal operations and the process of moving a shipment from one point to another.”