Indeed, blockchain applications are numerous and many, yet more to come. Blockchain achieves amazing results in waste management. Digital Asset Live Editor-in-Chief talked to Luca Del Col, CEO of Partitalia (featured image above), the firm that made such a big hit at the recent Smart City Expo in Barcelona, where our Editor-in-Chief met its team.
Q1: Traceability, the inherent feature of DLTs, how was it used in your project, to manage waste?
With Partitalia’s blockchain process that uses the “Discovery Mobile” RFID wristband, waste collection data can be validated in the following stages:
- PRODUCTION OF TRASH BINS AND BAGS: Right from their production, waste collection containers – bins or bags – are associated with a unique RFID tag.
- ASSOCIATION WITH THE USER: In the next stage, each container is associated with a user in a certified and secure way.
- DELIVERY OF WASTE: When waste is delivered, the data are validated directly by the citizen by means of the Blockchain.
- PAYT WASTE COLLECTION: Final step: the waste collector certifies collection by means of the “Discovery Mobile” RFID wristband.
Q2: You told me of a small municipality in Italy that reduces your garbage tax by the amount you recycled, how does it work?
Between 2015 and 2016, the town of Miglianico decided to implement the Euroran “polluter pays” principle, with the aim to allowing virtuous citizens to save and make less virtuous ones pay their fair share.
The town authorities came upon Partitalia around then. And that’s when it all began: the town council set about organizing the project, information and communication campaigns were run to promote waste collection and, at the same time, the citizens of Miglianico received the containers on which RFID tags were applied, ready for scanning by the “Discovery Mobile” wristband during collection operations.
An important step that Fabio Adezio, Mayor of Miglianico describes: «In 2016, when we opted for PAYT waste collection, we decided to measure all the types of waste, not only – as is often done – the organic and unsorted waste, because we believed that the best solution was to fully manage and control deliveries. If a citizen gives me only dry or unsorted waste, it means he is not collecting his waste correctly and with our type of control we can see this and report any anomalous behaviour».
The economic benefits for the Town
Called “Virtuous town”, the population of Miglianico is 4,900 and the quota of separate waste collection has reached almost 85%, reducing the total cost of waste collection from around Euro 900,000 to around Euro 660,000.
When the containers were delivered, for 2,200 Tari users, a total tax evasion of Euro 100,000 was uncovered which, divided by five years, meant Euro 20,000 per year to be recovered. Moreover, the introduction of PAYT waste collection in Miglianico allowed virtuous citizens to save 21%. To reward them, each citizen was given a water voucher that allows them to withdraw one litre of water free every day for the rest of their lives. This initiative also contributes to reducing the amount of plastic waste.
Blockchain for waste collection
And then it was decided to apply the blockchain. To allow us to better understand the “why” and “how”, the mayor adds: «We register waste collection transactions on a certified and authenticated instrument and transfer this information. We are sure that the transactions we transfer to our systems are secure and so citizens can be sure that that is their waste.
The next step we will take in the near future is to provide citizens with details of their deliveries, so that they can personally check the data». In this way, we have optimized the management of the waste and data of Tarip users. With Partitalia’s RFID technology and Blockchain, the town of Miglianico has georeferenced data available, with collection date and time references, accurate data per unit and per delivery.
Therefore, this control has allowed us to identify a clear trend: every inhabitant of the town produces 75 kg of waste per capita per year. But there’s more says Adezio: «By simply analysing the deliveries we can see if there are more people living in a house than those reported. With this technology, which is secure and certified, we would like to be able to analyse much more».
Q3: If you were to describe your project to an outsider to blockchain, how would you do it?
Marco Di Marco, chairman of the Meditchain consortium, joined Partitalia’s event at Ecomondo 2019: “Blockchain and wearable RFID device for certified management of PAYT waste collection”.
He spoke about blockchain in the management of the waste cycle saying: “The use of the Blockchain will certainly increase and improve some IT and electronic processes, leading to savings in money and resources that previously caused delays and increases in costs. All this can contribute to streamlining the red tape in companies but also in the public administration, benefiting consumers and citizens.“
Q4: Who are the participants to your blockchain, and what benefits each group gets, of what it was not possible, took too long time or too many resources before?
In this preliminary experimental stage, the chain is fairly short: the process links the item (trash bin), the citizen and the time of collection, certifying that the service has been completed. Thus, on one hand citizens can be sure that the calculation of their PAYT is the real, but not an estimate, while on the other hand the council will not be laid open to objections, rather, it monitors the service rendered by the waste collection management company. Indeed, prior to this new system, the council received data that could not be verified and/or controlled as there were no automatic monitoring systems.
Q5: If other providers of the same service comes along, is your system open to cooperation? How?
During this stage of technological development there are the early adopters and companies that steer the change process: a technological change becomes successful at the moment in which all the players involved manage to create an interconnected ecosystem of players that cooperate on a large scale.
Q6: Who is your target audience, and how are you going to reach them?
Our target audience is municipalities, waste collection companies, system integrators and consultants.
Q7: Which blockchain standard did you choose and why?
We chose Hyperledger Fabric in the Meditchain network because it was set up for scientific research purposes and, with a view to starting a pilot project, it seemed to be the most flexible. We are looking at Ethereum with a view to scalability in order to move on to more structured solutions.
Q8: How do you see the future of blockchain in waste management? What other use cases you may think of, perhaps as an extention to your current business?
Thanks to the intrinsic characteristics of this type of technology, there are infinite applications of the blockchain in the field of waste management that, like any other market, needs to track and certify its chain.
In the coming years, not only as regards waste, the initiatives and uses of blockchain will multiply; indeed we are already studying applications in the industrial and logistic fields.