In developing countries, especially in areas of Southeast Asia, plastic waste is often addressed by an informal sector, rather than through established collection processes. Easy-to-recycle plastics are sorted and recycled, but the majority of plastics, such as films and flexibles, can typically end up polluting the environment. The volume of plastic leakage into our oceans is expected to triple from 11 million tonnes to 29 million tonnes by 2040, which will require urgent action to ensure better worldwide waste management and less environmental pollution. Transforming waste infrastructure can be difficult to implement without incentivising policies, such as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes, which provide an opportunity for the private sector to contribute to building more established recycling infrastructures.
Plastic Energy and GreenToken by SAP have come together to support efforts to solve the growing global plastic waste issue, by developing a plastic-tracing blockchain system, that will be piloted in Southeast Asia. GreenToken is an auditable blockchain platform that brings transparency in tracing plastic from its first point of plastic-waste aggregation to the final output of recycled plastic content. The partnership intends to provide upstream value-chain support to the development of the waste infrastructure in Asia. This system has the potential to represent an alternative to the EPR system that currently exists in Europe, and provide a motivation for waste collection, sorting, and recycling.
Carlos Monreal, Founder & CEO of Plastic Energy, believes this is a step in the right direction for reducing plastic waste and increasing recycling in Asia. He adds:
“Many countries in Southeast Asia and the developing world suffer from a lack of waste infrastructure, and the inability to charge a sufficient waste levy and the informal nature of the sector raises many challenges. We at Plastic Energy are pleased to team up with GreenToken as a solution provider to tackle the challenges faced by the mismanagement of plastic waste and move towards validating circular polymers. We are committed to using our technology to fulfil governments’ ambitions and industry commitments to build a circular and sustainable future for plastics.”
The development of the partnership also intends to support the public commitments of Consumer Product Goods (CPG) companies to both increase the percentage of recycled content in packaging and increase its recyclability, and generally, address the plastic footprints of these companies in Asia. The system aims to be both complementary and compatible with existing waste management and certification schemes. While it is being piloted in Southeast Asia, it has the potential to expand globally.
Deborah Kaplan, Director of SAP One Billion Lives, comments:
“Through SAP’s One Billion Lives (1BL), we support employees that are innovating from within by developing a portfolio of sustainable, shared-value impact ventures. These ventures aim to help solve the world’s biggest problems by utilizing the best SAP has to offer — its people, technology and resources. GreenToken is part of this portfolio, and it’s great to see that they are partnering with Plastic Energy to help global CPGs companies in SE Asia become accountable for their in-country plastic waste, encourage circular economies in these fast-developing countries, all with the potential to better reward the informal waste recycling sector so that they, and their children, can have better lives”
Plastic Energy is the world leader in advanced recycling, using technology to recycle plastics that could not previously be recycled. They have pioneered the development of the Plastic2Plastic process to transform traditionally difficult to recycle plastic waste into recycled oils (TACOIL), that are used as a new feedstock for the production of virgin quality recycled content. With two existing industrial plants in Spain and many more in development in Europe and Asia, Plastic Energy is committed to making chemical recycling a global solution.
GreenToken by SAP is a supply chain solution that offers companies a new level of transparency in their complex and commingled material supply chains. Unlike every other approach, GreenToken achieves traceability without using complicated batches to track raw plastic waste inputs and finished circular polymers outputs, making GreenToken an ideal solution for the growing informal waste sector. What’s more, GreenToken’s cloud based solution uses blockchain to record chain of custody events giving the system trust, auditability and immutable facts on plastic waste origin that can be easily verified in any new circular polymer made from the plastic waste. This enables CPG customer to prove that their plastic wastes is being recycled and source new packaging from circular polymer, guaranteed by GreenToken, and so meet their packaging sustainability targets.
 Pew Charitable Trusts and SYSTEMIQ, July 2020, Breaking the Plastic Wave