Revolutionizing Recycling: Roland Berger and The DFINITY Foundation’s Blockchain-Powered VRC Initiative

Roland Berger has entered into a strategic partnership with The DFINITY Foundation, a Swiss non-profit organization known for its significant contributions to the Internet Computer Blockchain and substantial research and development efforts in the blockchain field, which have resulted in over 250 patents. The primary objective of this collaboration is to develop the underlying technology for the world’s first global recycling incentive standard, with a unique twist – it will be powered by blockchain technology, ensuring a secure and transparent tracking system for recycling credits.

Inspired by the Voluntary Emission Reduction (VER) model applied in the carbon market, the VRC standard represents a unit associated with a specific amount of recycled materials, such as aluminum or plastic. The integration of blockchain technology into the VRC standard is not just a progression; it is a fundamental element crucial for its success. Blockchain’s inherent decentralization and tamper-proof nature guarantee a transparent, auditable, and secure record of recycling credits and transactions. This transparency instills trust in all parties involved, including waste producers and recyclers, regarding the authenticity of the credits they purchase, sell, or trade. Moreover, the immutable nature of blockchain ensures that once a credit is recorded, it cannot be altered or duplicated, preserving the integrity of the entire VRC system. The DFINITY Foundation, serving as the technology partner for this endeavor, will provide a solution based on the Internet Computer blockchain, promising confidence, credibility, and scalability to make this initiative a global standard for recycling incentives.

The Internet Computer stands out as a general-purpose, layer-one blockchain often referred to as “Cloud 3.0.” This network has been operational for over two years and boasts an impressive track record of zero downtime, processing more than 750 million daily transactions, marking a substantial increase from its inaugural year of operation. It is also the sole blockchain network capable of hosting social networks and enterprise systems, offering an alternative to the conventional IT infrastructure.

Pierre Samaties, a Partner leading the global Digital Assets, Web3, and Metaverse Practice at Roland Berger, emphasized the importance of selecting the right blockchain technology for a project of this magnitude. The DFINITY Foundation and the Internet Computer blockchain were chosen due to their advanced capabilities in balancing decentralization, security, usability, and storage space.

The Internet Computer blockchain is also recognized for its sustainability, consuming significantly less energy than many competing blockchain projects and traditional Web2 technologies. A single online search is four times more energy-intensive than a transaction on the Internet Computer.

Dominic Williams, Founder and Chief Scientist of the DFINITY Foundation, expressed their honor in being chosen as collaborators for the Voluntary Recycling Credit project, highlighting their commitment to sustainability and working with leading enterprises to advance blockchain technology.

In response to the global waste crisis, a significant commitment was made at the resumed fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) in March 2022 to draft a legally binding instrument addressing plastic waste, which poses severe threats to the environment, biodiversity, and climate. The VRC initiative aims to tackle a pressing worldwide issue – the annual production of 2 billion tons of municipal solid waste and the dismal global plastic recycling rate, which stands at less than 10%.

This innovative project was announced in Paris alongside the INC-2 meeting and resulted from a collaborative partnership initiated in June 2023 between Roland Berger, BEEAH Group, International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), with the support of the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) and the COP28 Presidency.

Hani Tohme, Managing Partner at Roland Berger Middle East, emphasized the need for extensive collaboration to address the global waste crisis. The VRC project, he noted, bridges technology and sustainability to create a cleaner future and has the potential to revolutionize waste management and contribute to environmental stewardship.

The VRC’s long-term vision extends beyond waste management, aiming to facilitate the adoption of extended producer responsibility schemes and revamp production chains to reduce reliance on raw materials, replacing them with recycled alternatives. This approach aligns with the broader goals of the Paris Agreement by reducing landfill waste.

For businesses committed to reducing their environmental footprint, VRC offers a means to achieve their goals by offsetting the waste they generate and place on the market. This is especially advantageous for companies operating in regions with limited recycling infrastructure. Blockchain-based tokens offer certified credits that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, allowing companies to trade surplus recycling credits and create a dynamic marketplace.

Recycling companies can benefit from increased investment in collection and recycling technology, fostering a cycle of financing. The VRC aims to standardize and formalize practices, creating sustainable resource management loops within the market.

As they approach UNFCCC COP28, the partnership remains focused on developing the VRC platform, ensuring its robustness and user-friendliness, and seamless integration with existing systems. Simultaneously, they are engaging in active discussions with governments and industry-leading companies worldwide, advocating for the adoption of the VRC standard. By securing early commitments and fostering collaborations, the coalition aims to establish the VRC system as the globally recognized benchmark in recycling incentives by the time COP28 convenes. The first-ever live recycling credits transaction will be showcased at COP28 in Dubai, underlining the commitment to tackling material pollution on a global scale.

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