Empower a Global Plastic Waste Deposit and Tracking System, Team Member, Finalist, 2019
Inspired by the Norwegian plastic bottle recycling system, Empower tackles the plastic crisis by giving a value to plastic through a blockchain-powered Global Plastic Waste Deposit & Tracking System. By rewarding the act of depositing plastic, Empower incentivizes plastic waste collection in areas in great need, helps local communities overcome poverty by providing income opportunities, and uses blockchain to pave the way to a circular economy where plastic retains its value throughout various life cycles. The digital Deposit System created by Empower allows sponsors to follow up on plastic cleaning operations. Local cleaners can also immediately collect their reward through the use of a mobile application. Such system creates transparency in how plastic cleaning takes place, and provides the necessary security in terms of identity and transactions. The Tracking System set up by Empower enhances the transparency of waste management, sorting and recycling. By implementing product traceability into the value chain, we are redesigning the plastic waste-flows and connecting all the value chain stakeholders for a fully circular economy. Founded in February 2018, Empower has carried out pilot clean-ups over 15 countries so far and cleaned up nearly 195 tons of plastic waste. The start-up has gained considerable traction during its first year – in addition to being featured in Forbes and The Independent, Empower was also invited to speak on a panel at the first OECD forum on Blockchain (“OECD Blockchain Policy Forum 2018”). Empower was the proud winner of the 2018 Xynteo Impact Maker Award and selected as one of the 10 most innovative solutions on Challenging Plastic Waste in a competition run by the European Commission this year. Empower is the only Nordic initiative among the 25 development projects/ SDG solutions selected to be showcased at Expo 2020 Dubai’s Global Best Practice Programme. Empower also holds a Seal of Excellence for its proposal in the framework of EU Horizon 2020. In 2020, Empower is scaling up to build on this traction by raising funds as well as carrying out tracking pilot projects with multinationals companies. The goal is to clean up 1000 tons of plastic waste by the end of 2020, and launch the Global Plastic Waste Deposit & Tracking System in over 20 countries.