The blockchain is at it again, this time helping to clean up the oceans which is thanks to the efforts of plastic bank. Plastic bank is a non-profit that pays people in developing countries for handing over recyclable plastic using a crypto like token system. The non-profit has been operating in the island of Haiti for three years now and are planning to expand their operations to other countries according to an interview with inverse. In the conversation with Inverse, David Katz, the CEO, and founder of plastic bank said that when they first started out in Haiti, they knew they needed to create financial inclusion and give people a sense of security since these things were so badly needed in Haiti.
The idea of the plastic bank crypto token sounds like a gimmick at first but actually, this use of the blockchain has tangible relative to more direct compensation like cash. Despite the fact that the bitcoin hype has dropped significantly from 2017 highs of 20,000 dollars per coin to the current 6,500 per coin at the time of writing, many developers in the industry are still in search of new applications for the technology. According to the plastic bank CEO, the blockchain is a favorable system since it is transparent, reduces risks of handling cash and is quite secure. The technology also helps smooth out price fluctuations, creating a more sustainable economy.
In the areas of the island where they tried to implement a new recycling program, it was women and children that were collecting the plastics only to be mugged of the proceeds at a reclamation center. According to the general manager of IBM Blockchain, Marie Wieck, there were criminal cases reported to do with the redemption of proceeds handed out after the women and children had delivered the plastics. To address this problem, IBM and plastic bank went to work. They are currently using the Hyperledger fabric enterprise standard created by IBM and hosted by Linux to come up with a solution.
The project will ultimately allow users to choose between two tokens. One is freely tradeable and is tied to the US dollar which can be exchanged like a regular cryptocurrency while the other can be exchanged for essentials like stationary. The system also allows plastic bank to manage fluctuations in market value for plastic that usually have widespread consequences. Back in 2014 Brent crude oil prices dropped from 112 dollars per barrel in June of that year to 62 dollars per barrel in December of that year. This resulted in a 60 percent price drop that pickers received from their collections. Although this venture by IBM and plastic bank is not as big as bitcoin it will assist in finding new applications for the technology. While the project initially started in Haiti the organization plans to expand the concept to Indonesia and the Philippines.