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Netherlands to harness blockchain for waste management operations

Authorities are trying out blockchain to automate many of the processes related to waste transportation in the EU

The authority that checks waste is transported correctly in the Netherlands is working on a project to use blockchain and mobile apps to remove manual intervention from its processes.

Currently, hundreds of thousands of border crossings are made by waste-carrying trucks, and they all have to be checked manually. The project will be a proof of concept for the EU waste transportation sector.

It has been taken up by the Netherlands infrastructure ministry’s Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT), which wants to automate many of its tasks using blockchain technology and mobile apps.

The ILT supervises the removal and transportation of waste to and from other EU countries and has to connect with multiple agencies to manage the operation. It currently relies on manual processes, but by using blockchain, the authority hopes to free up human resources for other tasks.

Elliot Donata, senior adviser at the ILT, said multiple government bodies supervise and authorise the export, import and transportation of company waste throughout the EU.

“The EU supervises various aspects of these processes, such as granting permits, notifying involved parties of waste transports and monitoring financial security,” he said. “These processes involve a lot of work that is still mostly done by paper and regular mail. At ILT, we believe that a combination of smartphone applications for data intake and verification and blockchain technology is paving the way for efficient cross-border transfer of waste.”

ILT has hired software companies LegalThings One and Safety Changer to work together on a project known as European Waste Transportation on Blockchain.

Blockchain technology will enable all government bodies and companies to get real-time verification of each step in the process. The project is supported by two major waste recycling companies, Indaver and AVR, as well as ILT in the Netherlands and Flemish waste authority OVAM in Belgium. The project will be applied to waste transports between the Netherlands and Flanders.

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Rick Schmitz, founder of LegalThings One, said: “Imagine every single truck driver not having to carry any paper and not having to stop for border-crossing verification. With over 600,000 cross-border transports in the Netherlands alone each year, imagine the amount of time and money that will be saved. A huge saving potential can be unlocked using blockchain technology.”

Blockchain, which has its roots in the financial service sector as the technology underpinning bitcoin, is now being tested out in many sectors. Processes that require data security, the ability to share with certain parties and a guarantee that information has not been tampered with are seen as potential applications for the technology.

Examples of blockchain’s use outside the finance sector include Sweden’s land registry authority, Lantmäteriet, which is using it in a pilot system for recording property-related transactions.

Meanwhile, the Dubai government is introducing a biometric border checking system that uses blockchain to ensure sensitive data can only be seen by the digital passport holder and the relevant authorities.

This week, auto makers, startups and technology firms have launched the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI) to explore blockchain for use in a new digital mobility ecosystem that aims to make transportation safer, more affordable and more widely accessible.

Chris Ballinger, former chief financial officer at the Toyota Research Institute, is joining MOBI as CEO. He said: “Blockchain and related trust-enhancing technologies are poised to redefine the automotive industry and how consumers purchase, insure and use vehicles. By bringing together auto makers, suppliers, startups and government agencies, we can accelerate adoption for the benefit of businesses, consumers and communities.”

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