3 Ways That Blockchains Are Being Used to Help the Environment

By Alex Lielacher

While the original purpose of blockchain technology was to underpin decentralized cryptocurrencies, newer iterations of this technology enable it to be applied to develop new value-adding solutions in both the public and private sectors.

Today, there are even blockchain startups that employ blockchains with the aim of bringing about positive change for the environment. Several of these initiatives seem particularly promising for long-term effects in responsible stewardship.

1. Peer-to-Peer Energy Management

One of the hallmarks of blockchain technology is that it is designed in a way that removes power from a central authority and restores a certain level of autonomy to the individual. This is an integral component of blockchain technology itself, and one company is making an active effort to take this quality to its outermost limits.

SunContract is a blockchain-powered, peer-to-peer energy market, whose platform enables homeowners to trade energy with their counterparts easily. Due to the peer-to-peer nature of the market, traders have control over how much they spend on the energy they purchase.

The project launched in Slovenia, and it is set to be introduced across the European Union. While control over energy prices is valuable for users, SunContract encourages homeowners to use a renewable source, the sun, to create clean, sustainable energy. The ability to make money from their surplus energy is a strong incentive.

Additionally, the project aims to reduce the reliance on centralized energy grids, which typically overcharge for their energy while regularly mismanaging the electricity supply.

Another project that is tackling the challenge of mismanaged energy surplus is the Exergy Platform, which is a collaboration between two companies: ConsenSys and LO3Energy. According to its website, the Exergy platform is a “permissioned data platform that creates localized energy marketplaces for transacting energy across existing grid infrastructure.”

This platform uses blockchain technology to power a marketplace that is able to effectively function within the centralized energy grid, while still allowing for peer-to-peer functionality. This means that excess energy on the grid can be accessed by individuals, reducing waste. Furthermore, people can also sell the energy they produce at the current market rates. The platform is already successfully being used in Allgau, Germany.

The cost of creating energy is a significant source of stress on the Earth’s ecosystems. In addition to unsafe conditions in mines leading to deaths, coal mining leads to air pollution. Fossil fuel mining also results in a marked increase in greenhouse gas emissions. These gases have been directly linked to climate change. With this in mind, it is important to utilize the energy in our grids responsibly as well as to find methods to incentivize the sustainable creation of energy. The use of blockchain technology makes this possible, as it introduces the concept of financial gain for sustainable sourced energy. It also potentially reduces the waste of any existing energy.

2. Coins for Plastic

Waste management is a big challenge across the globe, which is especially true of plastic that is nonbiodegradable. However, plastic is used in a wide array of ways, and lack of proper waste management means that it invariably ends up in our oceans.

The nonprofit organization Social Plastic is using blockchain technology to help clean the oceans of plastic through a project called “Plastic Bank.”

Plastic in our oceans has an adverse effect on aquatic ecosystems. Moreover, this ends up affecting human health, because we are very likely to ingest plastic when we eat seafood. Plastic Bank aims to reduce the amount of plastic in our oceans by encouraging people in developing countries to collect plastic in nearby water bodies.

Plastic Bank uses blockchain technology to power a platform where people can exchange their collected plastic waste for items, fiat currency or the platform’s native crypto token. The project then recycles the plastic and resells it. This effectively turns waste into money and incentivizes people to actively clean up the ocean, providing people with a possible source of part-time income, like many other functions of the gig economy.

Another similar project is RecycleToCoin, which has developed a mobile app that aims to make recycling easy and accessible. With the app, it is possible to keep track of how much plastic an individual collects. The plastic is then collected by the Global Plastic Neutral Scheme, its sister project.

The app compensates users for their plastic, turning it into points that can be redeemed for a wide number of items. The project utilizes blockchain technology to store all relevant information, meaning users can always be sure they are receiving their rewards correctly. The platform also supports steel and aluminum can recycling.

3. Food Supply Tracking

Food production is without a doubt one of our time’s biggest environmental concerns. Creating food and transporting it to market has significant effects on the environment. While most people are aware of this, it is difficult to purchase things that are sourced sustainably, because of a lack of a trusted source of information about the items on sale.

Ethereum-based platform FoodTrax is seeking to fix this problem. The project aims to provide a reliable tracking system for food. Users will be able to see all details pertaining to the food item, including how it is sourced, farmed and transported. Such data will allow individuals to make choices based on the sustainability of the production.

Additionally, companies whose food products are not performing well on the market will be forced to revisit their production choices, leading to a continued change in the long run.

Initiatives such as this one could end up only scratching the surface of environmentally conscious blockchain applications. With the blockchain space expanding, and ecological concerns pressing further on the collective consciousness, approaches such as these could end up pioneering a whole new niche in the decentralized space.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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