Mitsui Chemicals Inc. (TYO:4183) and IBM Japan Ltd. are set to kick off demonstration testing for a digital technology project aimed at visualizing the plastic material recycling process and making it more transparent.
If plastic waste is to be properly recycled and reused, companies must be able to ensure the safety of recycled materials, confirm that recycled materials have been used where specified and verify data authenticity. Mitsui Chemicals and IBM Japan have therefore set out to utilize blockchain technology, which can ensure data transparency and protect against data falsification.
For their joint efforts here, the two companies will build a resource circulation platform where event information at all stages – from the manufacturing process of recycled materials and products through to sales, recovery, dismantling, shredding and recycling – can be recorded as key codes and tracked. The system is designed to allow easy entry of key codes at each stage, and aims to significantly reduce the need for auditing and application work.
Target products for this include packaging materials, automobiles and home appliances. Efforts on this front will overall represent Phase 1 of the joint development project.
Phase 2, which is set to span 2022–2024, will see the establishment of a consortium, with companies being invited to participate in this to share recycling know-how across industries and evolve the platform into a plastic recycling system for all of Japan. Then from 2025 onward, Mitsui Chemicals and IBM will export the resource circulation platform globally as Phase 3, looking through this to bring about a recycling-based economy on a global scale.
Through their demonstration testing, Mitsui Chemicals and IBM Japan aim to verify seven main points. Namely, these are the platform’s abilities to (1) transparently show the safety of recycled materials by displaying traced information in a clear manner; (2) utilize traceability to prove to consumers that products are recycled; (3) ensure the sustainable, stable supply of recycled materials by knowing their location; (4) use the traced information to enable purchasing from new routes in which there is no existing business relationship; (5) ensure data transparency and authenticity; (6) reduce workloads for the likes of application and auditing tasks by leaning on digitalization; and (7) use the traceability to help obtain subsidies.