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BASF Canada expands pilot project for tracing recycled plastics into B.C.

The chemical maker's reciChain project, which enables better sorting, traceability, and transparency of recycled plastics throughout the value chain, was initially piloted in Brazil.


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February 14, 2020 by Canadian Plastics

In response to the growing problem of plastic waste, BASF Canada has launched a pilot platform in the province of British Columbia that aims to enable better sorting, traceability, and transparency of recycled plastics throughout the value chain.

According to the Mississauga, Ont.-based company – which is a subsidiary of BASF SE and an affiliate of BASF Corp. – the pilot project platform, called reciChain, “will introduce a more sustainable alternative to the linear economic model, reducing plastic waste, maximizing its value and enhancing resource efficiency.”

Canada disposed of nearly 3.3 million tons of plastic scrap in 2016, according to a recent report by Deloitte for Environment and Climate Change Canada, and less than 11 per cent of that was recycled, meaning the rest was sent to landfill or lost to the environment. If the present trend continues, the report concluded, Canadians will dispose of an estimated $11.1 billion worth of plastic materials each year by 2030.

“There is a clear global challenge around the economics of recycling plastic,” Marcelo Lu, president of BASF Canada, said in a statement. “Much of the collection and sorting activities are challenged by manual processes and material contamination. Additionally, traceability is a concern as new commitments start to emerge from brand owners and retailers. With reciChain, our goal is to revitalize the value of plastics and significantly improve circularity in the supply chain.”

The reciChain platform combines the power of blockchain with a digital badge and loop count technology that enables the secured sharing of data among market participants, BASF Canada said, while improving the sorting, tracing, and monitoring of plastics throughout the value chain. According to BASF Canada, the result is “a more competitive circular supply chain rather than a linear one, extending the life cycle of plastics.” The platform can also provide better assurance to brand owners of the validity of the certificates they purchase from recyclers and converters.

Initially piloted by BASF in Brazil, the idea for reciChain came from a need in that market to deal with social inequality issues as well as regulatory concerns around issuing recycling certificates. “Given its ability to tokenize the recycling value of plastics, the platform enables a fairer distribution of value added along the supply chain, even to cooperatives, which traditionally generate lower returns compared with other businesses,” BASF Canada said. “Also, the improved transparency from the material flow in the platform provides better compliance with recycling documentation. The project has already secured participation of some large Brazilian key players and will continue to be developed in parallel with the Canadian pilot project.”

According to BASF Canada, Deloitte is acting as a strategic advisor for the pilot project in British Columbia. The team is currently validating the pilot project’s value in the local supply chain with the goal of expanding it to a nationwide solution to improve recycling and recovery of plastics in Canada.

“A successful implementation of reciChain will result in a collaborative digital consortium that will bring together plastic manufacturers, suppliers, government entities, retailers, waste collectors and recyclers aimed at keeping the life of plastic molecules circular,” said Anthony DiPrinzio, head of BASF Blockchain Lab. “Leveraging blockchain technology, we can work together to ensure our products deliver back to the value chain and contribute to a circular economy.”