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Case Studies on the Circular Economy and Blockchain

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

By Jaya Bijoor


Case Study 1:

Ecoterra, an India-based Recycle2Earn platform launched in August 2023, provides individuals and communities with recycling containers to collect recyclable materials such as paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, and aluminum cans. Once the collection containers are filled,

participants can arrange for Ecoterra to collect the materials, or they can drop them off at designated recycling centers. The collected materials are then sorted into respective categories. Ecoterra weighs the recyclable materials and keeps a tally of the weight for each individual or community. The collected recyclables are converted into reusable products through various recycling processes. For example, paper and cardboard may be processed into new paper products, while plastic can turn into new plastic goods. Based on the weight of the recyclable materials collected, participants earn virtual currency or points, which they can redeem for rewards. These rewards can include discounts on local products, services, or experiences. Ecoterra keeps track of each participant’s recycling effort and the amount they have earned over time. This allows individuals and communities to monitor their progress and environmental impact. In the first week of launch, Ecoterra signed up five thousand users.


Case Study 2:

Launched in 2013, Plastic Bank, based in Vancouver, Canada, establishes collection centers in

communities where plastic waste is prevalent. These centers are often located in areas with limited waste management infrastructure. Individuals known as “collectors” bring the plastic waste gathered to these collection centers. The collectors can collect plastic waste from beaches and waterways or offer door-to-door collection services in their communities. The plastic waste brought to the collection centers is weighed and evaluated. The collected plastic is assigned a reward based on quantity and quality. Plastic Bank uses a digital currency system rather than providing cash or physical rewards. The collectors receive their rewards as tokens or digital credits, stored in a digital wallet accessible via mobile phones. Plastic Bank partners with brands, including consumer goods manufacturers and packaging companies, to create a market demand for the collected plastic waste. These organizations purchase plastic from Plastic Bank at a premium price, thereby supporting the recycling ecosystem and ensuring the plastic waste is recycled correctly and repurposed. The collectors can use the digital credits they earn through recycling to exchange for various goods and services. This creates economic opportunities and helps uplift the communities involved. The rewards can purchase groceries, household items, mobile phone credits, or educational programs.


By collecting and recycling plastic waste, Plastic Bank prevents it from ending up in waterways and oceans, reducing pollution and its negative impact on marine life and ecosystems. The recycled plastic is used to produce new products or incorporated into a circular economy, reducing the need for virgin plastic production. Since 2013, Plastic Bank’s collectors have recovered more than eleven million kilograms (or the equivalent of over 550 million bottles) of ocean-bound plastic while earning a living wage in developing countries.


Case Study 3:

Circulor is a three-year-old UK-based startup that uses blockchain technology to ensure a fully transparent solution to recycling. Partnering with reverse vending machine manufacturers and integrating with deposit return schemes and recycling plants, Circulor is creating an ecosystem to allow individuals and businesses to deposit unwanted plastic. Participants are rewarded for their behavior with $CIRP tokens that can be exchanged on Circulor’s rewards app for discounts on purchases, vouchers for sustainable products, or even donations to environmental causes. Additionally, Circulor provides transparent data on the recycling process, including the amount of plastic collected, the percentage recycled, and the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. This allows participants to see the direct positive impact of their recycling efforts. By incentivizing and rewarding responsible recycling behavior, Circulor aims to reduce plastic pollution and promote a more sustainable approach to waste management.


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