How iWrc and Empower are shaping Brazil’s recycling infrastructure
Editor’s note: This story is the first part of a two-part series exploring the use of blockchain to improve Brazil’s recycling infrastructure. The first part details the current state of recycling in the country and the partnership that has been formed. The second part explains the technology and how it will scale.
“A circular economy requires partnerships and cooperation along value chains,” says Wilhelm Myrer, Founder and CEO of Empower.
This statement rings true as companies around the world collaborate on projects to improve waste treatment infrastructure in countries where such systems are lacking, such as Brazil. Nearly 80 million tons of solid waste were generated in Brazil in 2018, according to the 2019 outlook of the Brazilian Association of Public Cleaning and Special Waste Companies (Abrelpe). The country leads all Latin American countries in terms of waste generation, accounting for 40% of the total waste generated, according to UN Environment.
A tech-driven partnership between Norway’s Empower and Brazil-based iWrc to improve Brazil’s recycling prospects couldn’t come at a more crucial time, as the country ranks 108th out of 137 economies in waste quality. infrastructure, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index.
Empower’s blockchain-based tracker has strived to increase the value of plastic waste in “the world’s underserved.” Alongside iWrc’s online marketplace platform, companies strive to “turn waste into socially recovered waste”.
resources that will ensure a people-centric circular economy. »
The partnership in Brazil aims to build the capacity of companies and organizations looking for socially responsible recycled materials to create proven impact and ensure transparency in supply chains. In other words: encourage waste collection.
Waste360 connected with both organizations to learn more about how collaboration using blockchain technology is changing waste management systems in South America. iWrc President Michael Maggio and Empower’s Myrer coordinated to provide insight.
Waste360: What does the waste infrastructure look like in South America and more specifically in Brazil?
The infrastructure in Brazil has different levels of technology, ranging from manual to semi-automatic, but relies heavily on informal sector waste collectors. About 20 percent of collection and sorting is done within informal sector cooperatives, with the remaining 80 percent of collection done by self-employed waste pickers who are not part of cooperatives and live in and around the materials recyclables that they collect and sell as part of their livelihood. The typical cooperative, where the partnership between iWrc and Empower will begin, consists of semi-automatic installations with simple conveyors and balers. Approximately 20-40 cooperados operate the facility and sort various materials, PET, HDPE, LDPE, PP, e-waste, aluminum, glass and other materials which are sorted and baled before being sold to an aggregator or processor which converts it into the raw material that can be used in both products and packaging. Brazil’s legal and regulatory framework provides a solid basis for comprehensive waste management.
The National Solid Waste Policy (PNRS) of 2010 set principles, objectives, instruments and guidelines on the management of solid waste, including hazardous waste, in accordance with the relevant recommendations. It introduced concepts that were little known in Brazil before, such as the collection of recyclable materials, the final disposal of solid waste in an environmentally responsible manner, integrated management of solid waste and extended producer responsibility (called “logistics reverse” in Brazil).
Waste360: How will blockchain incentivize waste collection and change Brazil’s recycling infrastructure?
A third-party blockchain solution like that provided by Empower can encourage broader participation of all participants in the waste value chain, from waste collectors to consumers, who can then provide the means to track the entire journey that waste borrow. way to the retail store. This valuable data can increase the value of waste and encourage more people to play a role in this Brazil’s recycling infrastructure.
The National Solid Waste Policy places the responsibility on the producer to develop and maintain the recycling infrastructure. Global goals and commitments drive producers to use materials from this infrastructure. Because the informal sector is a major player in infrastructure, it is difficult to hire them without insurance, the risk is often too high.
Many problems are present in the informal sector globally, child labor, forced labor, poor pay, poor disciplinary practices and most importantly health and safety issues. The iWrc operational platform helps eliminate these risks. The Empower blockchain will provide traceability and verify that each transaction is risk-free. The connection between iWrc and Empower will finally be able to answer the question… “How do you know that there is no child on the other end of the transaction?”
Waste360: Why is blockchain so essential to creating value chains and traceability?
In an era of continued digital transformation, turning to blockchain means providing secure track and trace capabilities, helping establish product provenance, improving supply chain governance, and building trust and transparency. Blockchain is essential to ensure the traceability process and everyone involved in the supply chain can be validated. Since the first link in the supply chain is operated by the informal sector, there are also environmental, social and financial benefits to providing a tool to formalize the informal sector and make it a visible and valued part of supply chains. value. In the same way as it happens in the traceability process, when it is protected via a blockchain, all the participating entities validate the information, which means that the company which delivers the waste to the carrier puts all the information in a digital document, the carrier validates this information and takes the material to the next entity, which may be a buyer of recyclables, a cooperative or a landfill. Upon arriving at the final destination, the consignee confirms that he has received the waste.
Waste360: How will this partnership create progress within the circular economy?
Our goal is to reintegrate material into the supply chain that is aligned with the circular economy. In order to participate in the circular economy, we want to create technical nutrients that can be reabsorbed by the supply chain. To do this, we must first eliminate the risk factors and then, just as important, verify that this has been done. Empower’s digital tracking solution and the iWRC platform that turns waste into socially recovered resources combine to ensure a people-centric circular economy, connecting brands in need of recycled materials to socially responsible waste collection cooperatives , and improving the health, safety and financial well-being of waste pickers in the process. This technology partnership will provide new possibilities for companies and organizations looking for easy, reliable, transparent and socially responsible recycled materials with proven impact. End producers will be able to issue full transparency on the origin and journey of the materials used, including the issuance of immutable product passports.
Waste360: What will each partner specifically provide?
Brazil’s National Solid Waste Policy specifically promotes the social inclusion and economic empowerment of waste pickers. Collectors are responsible for approximately 20% of waste sorted for recycling. They are also the main contributor to the high recycling rates of aluminum cans, PET bottles and paper (the government estimates that 97% of aluminum cans, 55% of PET bottles and 67% of recyclable paper were recycled in 2020). The draft 2020 revision of the National Solid Waste Management Plan sets the goal of increasing the percentage of municipalities with formal contracts for the management of recyclable materials by cooperatives and associations of waste pickers from 7.9% in 2020 to 95% by 2040. Achieving this will require significant increases in funding to pay for the services provided by waste pickers. In 2017, only 169 municipalities paid for the selective collection of waste by waste picker organizations (MMA, 2020). iWrc is a platform company that organizes a socially certified network in the informal recycling sector on a global scale.
The network infrastructure is an ecosystem that will help make recyclables from waste pickers and brand partners more accessible to everyone as needed. iWrc experts are on hand to train and build capacity to reduce risk to partner brands engaging the network and providing operational confidence. Since the iWrc does not own the network, it simply sets out the rules of interactions that eliminate friction in order to allow the exchange of information and to create value between the collectors, the supply chain and the partners of the brand followed by fair trade compensation, materials and/or services and costs. iWrc Inside is a platform company that is a business model (not a technology infrastructure) that aims to facilitate interactions between a large number of participants.
These interactions may take the form of short-term transactions such as matching buyers and sellers, or they may involve the formation of longer-term social relationships, longer-term collaboration to achieve a shared outcome, or sustained efforts to accelerate the improvement of participants’ performance by helping them. to learn faster together. The role of the platform enterprise is to provide a governance structure and a set of standards and protocols that facilitate large-scale interactions so that network effects can be triggered. Empower provides the digital tracking platform that helps incentivize data collection and sharing across the value chain, connecting everyone in the value chain with a layer of trust and transparency and ensuring that all stakeholders are aligned and can work together to create an effective and transparent system. circular economy for the benefit of all stakeholders as well as the world.