Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2020 - 20

Q&A
continued from page 19
naturally presented a solution.
Why? Because a blockchain enables trust, basically. It enables
trust where trust is usually lacking, in a very easy and non-human-intervention way. That's
how Circularise got started and
what it is.
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH PLASTICS?
Even back when doing my research in Delft, plastics played a
very important part. One of the
largest and most complicated
waste streams in the world is
electronics - and huge amounts
of plastics are used in the electronics industry. What makes
it so complicated is that many
types of plastics are used with
all kinds of additives, which are
important to know about for
efficient recycling. So plastics
was a focus of ours. And then
we were also lucky: we met
our contacts at Covestro and
Domo, about a year and a half
ago. At that time we were still
focusing on our technology, and
were very industry agnostic.
But by working together with
Covestro and Domo we slowly
started to shift our focus more
heavily towards plastics.
We are developing an open
standard for sustainability
and transparency in the plastics industry, that will enable
the industry to communicate
on sustainable practices and
make the plastics supply chain
fairer, more transparent and
profitable.
It's a massive undertaking and we'll be occupied for
some years to come. But we
see a lot of potential - despite
the bad rap, plastics have
many good properties, it's just
that they are being used in the
wrong manner.
That needs to change. We
need to create a system where
we can actually get these plastics into the economy over and
over again - and with plastics, it's possible. Theoretically,
we've done it, we now have to
make it work in practice and develop the systems around it. It
is definitely an impactful, large
and important market for this
technology.
Would it be possible for you to
explain what a blockchain is?

20

May/June 2020

It is a concept that can be difficult to grasp!
We could explain this in a very
complicated manner and go
into the technology, but at the
end of the day, what it does is it
creates digital scarcity.
And why would you want
that? Well, before the blockchain and the bitcoin and the
Ethereum era, if you did something online or on the internet,
there was no scarcity. Digital
information could be endlessly replicated across networks.

Digitally it's a simple control C,
V and you have a copy. It is extremely easy. I could send you
an image, but I would not have
the ownership of that image, to
create scarcity.
Hence, something like money is difficult in a digital system, which is why the first
blockchain application was the
bitcoin - digital money. Blockchain creates scarcity in the
digital world. Previously, the
only way to create this was with
a trusted party - like a bank,
where a central authority does
the balance-keeping.
But trusting a central authority to create scarcity in the
digital world is asking a lot of
your customers, whereas with
a blockchain, we can do this by
design. There is no one who is
the central authority and this

enables a lot of use cases.
Imagine trying to create a
transparency solution for plastic materials, and having to go
to Covestro and BASF and all
the rest to say: "Here's our platform. It allows full traceability of
all your materials - but we are
the administrators". We would
be in big trouble if we made a
mistake, or someone hacked
the system, or caused harm in
any other way. Theoretically, we
could even do that- we could
change any numbers we want-

ed. The point here is that we
would be a high-trust central
party at that stage, as everything that went into the system
would go through our systems.
With a blockchain, no central
authority is needed.
WHY IS THAT IMPORTANT?
It's important for us because if
we want to bring transparency to a supply chain we cannot sell the idea that all these
companies need to trust us - at
the end of the day we are still
a small company: we're not
Google or IBM - and even then,
would these companies trust a
company like Google or Microsoft with all their information?
Give them the central role of
trusted authority?
What blockchain enables is
to decentralize all this power:

now everyone has access to
this information and nobody
is in control. You control your
data, I control my data - whereas in the real world, right now
if I were, say, the bank I would
have access to your data, and
to everyone's data which I could
manipulate, sell, or give access
to someone else to play around
with.
So the blockchain is a decentralised system of data communication or information sharing.
Jordi and I asked ourselves:
"What can we do if we can have
a source of truth without a central authority - what new interactions can we enable?" And
we saw that we could create
systems like ours, where competitors in an industry can be
connected together and share
information in a very trusted
way about how much material
they buy, where, or how it was
produced without anyone being able to cheat with this information - for example, to make
themselves look more sustainable - but also without having
to trust one central authority
We didn't invent blockchain
- it was already there, we just
connected the right technologies to create the application.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
It's one thing to track money. It's a whole other thing to
track sustainability. The way
we prove sustainability can be
demonstrated with an example
of the way we prove the use of
recycled content - after all, if
you can prove you've used recycled content in your material,
that's one example of proving
you have done something sustainable.
The way we do this is by
working with supply chain partners to create a digital version
of their material. Why? So that
the brand owner using a particular material, for example, sustainable polycarbonate, knows
both that it actually comes from
the producer in question - say,
Covestro - and how it was
produced. They are many tiers
between producer and brand
owner; for example, car makers
have thousands of suppliers,
each with their own suppliers
as well, so there are a great
many people to trust.
So what we do: for every ki-



Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2020

Contents
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2020 - Cover1
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2020 - Cover2
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2020 - Contents
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2020 - 4
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2020 - 5
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2020 - 6
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2020 - 7
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2020 - 8
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Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2020 - Cover3
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2020 - Cover4
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