Blockchain technology has become synonymous with innovation and disruption. While several sectors like healthcare, education, and finance have significantly benefited from blockchain-integration, one of the more promising use-cases may catch you completely by surprise. Believe it or not, the blockchain technology could be used to solve and manage the world’s most pressing environmental issues. In this article, we will be looking at the five most significant use cases of blockchain technology in this space.
Supply Chain Management
As people get more environmentally conscious, they become more careful about where their products are sourced from. For examples, people have started buying meat that is organically-grown and grass-fed instead of more traditional choices. However, as we stand right now, it’s really tough to know for sure whether the items you are purchasing have been ethically procured or not. The blockchain technology has two properties that can completely change the way supply chains work:
- Transparency: Everything that’s inside the blockchain is visible to the network hosting it.
- Immutable: Once something has been added to the blockchain, it can’t be tampered with.
Blockchain-powered supply chains could be used to track a variety of products like different food items. In fact, Foodtrax is a blockchain-powered dApp that is doing just that. It will allow its users to track food from its origin to the store shelf.
The problem with current recycling programs is that it depends solely on people doing “what’s right.” Since that’s not a good enough incentive, most recycling programs often fall well below expectations. Plus, even if they do have some kind of impact, it is hard to track and truly gauge the effectiveness of the program.
A blockchain-based recycling program can completely turn this system on its head via tokenization. Participation by people can be financially rewarded in the form of a cryptographic token. Plus, it can be really easy to track various data and metrics like volume, cost, and profit to gauge the impact of the program.
Social Plastic, aka Plastic Bank, is an example of a project that’s incentivizing recycling by setting collection centers all over third-world countries where people can deposit their plastic in exchange for tokens.
Traditional power grids are highly centralized, which can lead to highly inefficient energy distribution. Firstly, it can lead to an unused surplus in wealthy areas while in less well-to-do zones, it can lead to massive shortages. Plus, power plant installations can be really costly, which can again lead to uneven distribution. A peer-to-peer blockchain network will negate the need to transmit electricity over long distances, which in turn will reduce energy losses along the way. Individuals will also have the option of directly benefiting from any investments they have made in renewable energy installations thanks to blockchain-based platforms.
The Australian based Power Ledger was founded in 2016. It provides an energy trading platform for the decentralized selling and buying of renewable energy.
Tracking the carbon footprint of each product is another way with which the blockchain can be used to protect the environment. In the current ecosystem, the environmental impact of each product is tough to determine. Tracking the carbon footprint of each product could be easily and securely done through the blockchain. The blockchain could also be used to create an immutable reputation system. This could be used to give companies a reputation score based on how they are trying to reduce their carbon footprint.
IBM is presently working with Veridium Labs Ltd., an environmental fintech company, to tokenize carbon credits.
Real-time air pollution monitoring
Air pollution is the fourth-largest health risk in the world, and air quality monitoring is a global challenge for governments, regulators, and citizens. Plus, efficient monitoring requires real-time reporting makes the current monitoring methods extremely inadequate and sluggish. PlanetWatch is looking to provide a solution to this problem. It is an environmental monitoring service that is building the world’s first immutable air quality ledger utilizing the Algorand blockchain and IoT technologies. It does so by leveraging a global network of environmentally conscious people. Not only will these people install air quality sensors outside their homes, but they will carry sensors while commuting and traveling as well. This allows PlanetWatch to capture crowd-sourced, real-time data about air quality and store them on Algorand’s immutable ledger. Contributors to the ecosystem will be rewarded with native PLANET tokens.
Once properly deployed, PlanetWatch will help in:
- Creating low-cost air quality monitoring networks.
- Delivering real-time data on air pollution.
- Storing air quality data in a decentralized, transparent, and immutable ledger.
- Economically incentivize the network to participate in the activity via a rewarding mechanism (PLANET tokens).
Out of the blockchain’s several use-cases, this may very well be one of the more crucial ones. As the pollution problem becomes more dangerous, people all over the world will need to start adopting more innovative methods to tackle it efficiently. Thankfully, it’s truly staggering to see that there are so many different ways with which the blockchain can be used to fight this potentially catastrophic problem.