How Blockchain could transform the Waste Management Industry?

Every passing day, the world is drowning under the increasing volume of waste, having adverse effects on human health, climate and environment.

Systematic and effective waste management has appeared as a severe challenge affecting many developing countries like Nigeria or India. Increased rate of urbanization and population and rapid developments are responsible for the generation of the massive amount of waste.

The growing waste generation rates, the issues of finding new disposal sites, depletion of landfill space, waste disposal and management methods are hampering adequate waste management.

For efficient results, it is crucial to introduce a modern waste management system to notice a full cycle of waste management, from how they were collected to when and where they were thrown away.

Blockchain enabled waste management platform could be used by the WM authorities to achieve sustainable sanitation. Also, connecting IoT sensors (weigh sensors, RFID) with the decentralized network can help to generate the data and offer real-time tracking facility of the garbage trucks throughout their journey.

How can blockchain reinvent the whole waste management program?

Stakeholders involved in the blockchain waste management system:

  • Customers –  Use the platform to place the waste collection request.
  • Municipality employee or customer service officer – Who places waste collection requests on customer’s behalf.
  • Inspector – Who is responsible for visiting the assigned sites to perform the inspection.
  • Contractors – Who are responsible for waste collection and management operations.
  • Police – Who can perform the legal formalities assigned to them.
  • Admin – Who manages waste management system.

The blockchain waste management platform can provide the stakeholders with a traceable and transparent way to regulate waste management activities.

Step 1: Customer Service officer (C.S.O) sign up to the waste management platform

C.S.O signs up to the platform with the details like name, government IDs, work permits and municipality office branch.

Once they successfully sign up to the platform, the officers can receive notifications such as the customer’s request on a daily basis.

Following are the things that can be performed by the officer using the blockchain platform:

1. Create the user’s accounts

Officer can create the account for those users who do not understand or use digital technology on the blockchain enabled platform. The users can be inspectors, police officers, customers and contractors.

2. Fill service request form on customer’s behalf

Those customers who are unable to create an account on the blockchain platform can visit the municipality office for submitting waste collection request.

The officer available on the service desk can create an account and fill the request form on a customer’s behalf and add the details to the blockchain platform.

3. Print debit Note “Offline payment”

Once the customer’s request is added on the blockchain, the officer can give them the debit note (payment receipt) and add their payment details on the blockchain.

Every debit note contains a unique transaction ID and C.S.O can save that number on the blockchain, ensuring that the payment has been made from the customer’s side.

4. View customer’s requests
The customer service officer can view the received requests on the blockchain and notify further to the inspector through smart contracts for managing the inspection activities.

Step 2: Customers sign-up to the platform

Every customer, including industries’ or house owners, can register on the platform with essential information like name, government issued ID proofs, company’s name, license and location.

Once the admin approves the registration requests, the customers are onboard to the blockchain enabled platform.

After getting registered on the platform, the customers can do the following things:

1. Adds waste collection request on the platform and attach the required documents

A customer can add details like waste type (industrial waste, solid waste, liquid waste, rubbish, biodegradable or non-biodegradable) and pick-up location in the form.

Any industry such as the chemical industry, hospitals, factories or manufacturing industry can register on the blockchain enabled platform and sign the waste collection contract with C.S.O.

The signed contract that is saved on the blockchain includes the type of waste (chemical waste, hospital waste or liquid waste) and daily pick-up time.

After adding the request on the blockchain, the smart contracts would trigger the rules and notify the C.S.O to find the customer’s request saved on the blockchain.

Since every request will be added to the blockchain, it will enable stakeholders to access the transactions transparently.

2. Pay online through payment gateways or E-wallet

The customers including industry owners can make the payment through a web application to consume the waste management services.

After the waste collection task is completed, the payment from the customer’s wallet will be deducted automatically through smart contracts and transferred to the officer’s wallet.

As all transactions are stored on the blockchain, the customers can have a clear view of the saved records. If any disputes occur in the future, the customer can easily reach to the transactions’ roots by using the blockchain platform.

Step 3: Inspectors create the profile on the distributed ledger platform

Inspector can sign up on the platform and can perform the following tasks:

1. View and approve the request

After receiving the notification from C.S.O, the inspector can view his inspection tasks and approve it.

When the request is approved, the smart contracts would trigger and notify contractors and police officer (if required in the task) about the assigned tasks including waste pick-up and drop location details.

Similarly, the customer receives the request status as “Approved” through smart contracts.

2. Perform the inspection process

The inspector can visit the waste management sites and do inspections anytime. During inspections, he can take samples, fill the checklist or commitment letter.

Inspection details would be saved on the blockchain, enabling stakeholders to keep informed related to the waste management inspection activities.

Due to the immutable feature of the blockchain, every member within the network can access the inspection report without being able to modify or tamper it.

3. Ask for the customer’s feedback

After a waste management activity is completed, the inspector can send the feedback request to the customer through smart contracts.

Once the feedback is added on the blockchain by the customer, the inspector can mark the request status as “Done”.

Since the information stored on the ledger cannot be altered by any third party, any customer can view the feedback’s history to know how the work had been carried out and also if they were happy or not with the job.

Step 4: Contractors sign up to the platform

Contractors can join the network to provide the public services on the municipality’s behalf. They need to create their account on the platform to get the work notifications assigned to them.

Following are the roles performed by contractors:

1. View and approve the assigned requests

The contractors can view the assigned request related to the waste management. As soon as they accept the request, the customer and inspector receive the notification.

2. Perform task 

Further, contractors would assign the task to drivers while adding the pick-up and drop location of the waste collection site.

They can also add the driver’s details like name, experience, type of vehicle and its number on the platform, which will be saved on the blockchain.

The driver reaches the pick-up location and collects the waste. When the waste collection is done, the status would be updated on the blockchain.

IoT sensors installed in the truck can enable stakeholders to get the following details:

  • How much waste has been collected?
  • How much waste can be recycled?
  • How much waste is hazardous?
  • How much waste is nonbiodegradable?

The sensors built in the IoT vehicle could automatically send the above-mentioned details on the blockchain.

Once the driver starts the journey, the customer and the inspector can track their real-time status.

When the driver reaches the drop location, the ride will end automatically and the pick and drop timings would be saved on the blockchain.

Adding pick-up and drop timings on the blockchain can enable stakeholders to know the total duration of a truck’s journey.

3. Submit monthly plan

In the month end, the contractors would add their monthly waste report, containing the waste management activities details and invoice to the blockchain.

As soon as the monthly plan is added, the smart contracts would trigger and notify inspectors to inspect their plan and approve it.

Once the plan gets approved, the C.S.O can pay the contractors and payment details are added on the blockchain.

Step 5: External entity like police officers can register on the platform

When it comes to managing the accidental waste such as burnt or construction waste, the police team plays a major role.

Police officers can sign up on the platform and can do the following things:

1. View assigned requests

Whenever any accident happens, the customer can send the “Visit Site” request to the police team. The request, which is added on the blockchain contains details such as accident’s type, location and picture.

2. Accept or Reject the request

Police officer while checking the request can either accept or reject them. If they accept the request, the next step is to visit the assigned location and manage the waste management activity.

They have a certain fixed time to respond to the assigned location, otherwise, smart contracts would automatically mark a penalty on them.

After inspecting the location, they can notify waste management authority to remove the waste from the assigned location.

Once the waste collection is completed, the accident case would be closed with the proofs (mainly pictures) added on the blockchain through a police officer.

Step 6: The role of the admin

  1. They can manage the users registered on the platform and their authorizations.
  2. They can manage the waste management service catalog.
  3. They can handle the payment gateways and fines.

Admin deploys smart contracts to ensure which detail should be shared with whom in the system, offering complete security and disclosure of the data. Also, involved entities in the ecosystem can view the roles assigned to them via the blockchain platform.

Underpinning all the above elements, the waste management industry can be transformed with better tracking, storing, collecting and interrogating of the data facility – ensuring trust and fairness to the system.

Following are some of the problems that can be eradicated with blockchain solution:

Problem 1: Fraud and manipulation
When contractors dispose of the waste, they submit their waste plan report to the municipality office for receiving the payment.
Payments are based on how many kilograms waste has been disposed of. The current waste management system doesn’t use any proper system to examine their report and pay accordingly. Since the reports can be easily manipulated, the payment frauds have been increased.

Solution: Ensuring integral traceability
Every data entered on the blockchain is immutable and timestamped. Therefore, when it comes to paying the contractors, the parties involved in the whole process can trace back the waste management activity history and can cross-check the submitted waste plan.

Problem 2: Wrong or loss of information 
The contracts, guidance letters or any other papers that regulate among all the waste management activities, sometimes get lost. Documents can be lost for any reason, but rectifying such issue has become critical than ever.

Solution: Streamlining documents
When any stakeholder adds information in the distributed ledger, it gets accessible to everyone. The contracts or other such documents have a digital presence on the blockchain, so they cannot be physically lost ever. The blockchain technology permits a massive ledger of data to be the accessed securely by multiple stakeholders.

To understand how blockchain IoT combined can benefit the waste management industry, contact our blockchain experts at LeewayHertz and they will guide you through the entire process.

Author’s Bio

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Akash Takyar
CEO LeewayHertz
Akash Takyar is the author of Blockchain Technology and Business book. He is the co-founder of LeewayHertz and is a consultant to fortune 500 companies including Siemens, 3M, Hershey’s and others. He has a Masters Degree in Computer Science. Akash’s experience of building over 100+ apps allows him to rapidly architect and design solutions. His ability to explain complex technologies in simple and practical ways has resulted in him becoming a popular speaker at colleges, universities, and conferences.
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