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  • Blockchain’s potential to reduce food waste is also important from an environmental perspective
  • Approximately  ⅓ of food produced globally goes to waste each year due to inefficiencies in the supply chain - this represents a massive waste of resources (e.g. water, energy in greenhouses, fuel for transport) as well as food
  • By reducing the number of intermediaries and increasing traceability (e.g. track conditions with IoT/RFID with data stored on Blockchain), the introduction of Blockchain in agri-food supply chains can reduce food waste and the associated environmental impact by enabling producers and retailers to more quickly  identify and respond to incidences of contamination
  • Smart food loss management systems and sale of surplus food (e.g. charities, hospitality, compost, biogas etc)
  • Pressure from consumers and investors have prompted many agrifood companies to make ambitious public commitments and pledges(e.g. zero deforestation, 100% renewable energy, 100% recycled materials)
  • However, complex and opaque global supply chains can make it difficult even for companies with good intentions to implement their commitments and demonstrate measurable results 
  • Inability to meet environmental commitments damages a company’s credibility and reputation 
  • Third-party certifications as a solution? 1) Confusing proliferation, 2) Greenwashing, 3) Audit fraud, 4) Expensive 
  • Blockchain as a way to demonstrate fulfilled commitments/an alternative to third-party certification: transparency, verifiable supply chains, and trust 

*Note: role of governments and regulatory bodies key to holding companies accountable - consumer demand may be an insufficient motivator on its own


Video: Atea + IBM Food Trust

  • The fishing industry is often associated with unsustainable practices such as overfishing which pose a serious threat to marine conservation
  • Use of Blockchain technology to support more sustainable fishing practices
  • Example: Atea and IBM Food Trust

Other examples of Blockchain uses for sustainable fishing:

  • World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
    • 2018 pilot programme, blockchain in the Pacific Islands’ tuna industry
    • Aim to stamp out illegal, unregulated and unreported tuna fishing, as well as unfair labour practices
    • Result: launch of online platform, OpenSC, which uses blockchain to verify sustainable production, track food along the supply chain and help people to avoid illegal, environmentally-damaging or unethical products

Other examples of Blockchain uses in sustainable fishing:

  • FishCoin
  • Open-source, decentralised Blockchain platform designed to incentivize data sharing
  • Fishcoin app: enables fishers to sell information about their catch to potential buyers. When a buyer decides to purchase the data, the fisher is immediately rewarded with cryptocurrency tokens (FishCoins), which can be redeemed for e-vouchers, mobile plan minutes, credit towards utility bills, or direct remuneration where applicable on a country by country basis


  • Blockchain can offer radical environmental transparency - but not all agrifood actors may want this
  • Producers also have incentives not to disclose information - current lack of regulation, high expenditure, competition, reputational damage
  • Selective information sharing - disclose only positive aspects while ignoring the negatives
  • To encourage greater transparency (using Blockchain or otherwise), governmental and societal pressure is crucial
  • Question surrounding the sustainability of Blockchain technology itself?
  • Most well-known Blockchain consensus mechanism: Proof of Work (PoW)
  • PoW often requires high levels of computational power and, consequently, high levels of energy consumption
    • 2022, Bitcoin’s estimated carbon footprint was comparable to country-level emissions of Greece


Possible solution: alternatives to PoW? Many alternatives have been developed, here are two of the most commonly used:

  • Possible solution: alternatives to PoW? Many alternatives have been developed, here are two of the most commonly used:
  • Proof of Stake (PoS) - rather than solving computational problems to verify transactions, validators are selected to verify transactions = lower energy consumption than PoW
  • Validators chosen based on the amount of stake they have in the network
  • Disadvantage: potential problem of monopolisation
  • Proof of Authority (PoA) - like PoS, transactions are verified by validators who are chosen based on their trustworthiness = lower energy consumption than either PoW or PoS
  • Disadvantage: centralised consensus mechanism


Topic: The Sustainability of Blockchain Technology

  1. Understanding the Complexity:
    • Reflect on the statement: "The sustainability of Blockchain technology is a complex issue, and no version of Blockchain so far is without its drawbacks, though the technology is continuously evolving."
  2. Form Your Opinion:
    • Spend 30 minutes thinking about whether you consider Blockchain a sustainable technology.
    • Decide whether your stance is YES (sustainable), NO (not sustainable), or DON’T KNOW (unsure).
  3. Document Your Initial Stance:
    • Write down your initial stance and the reasons for your opinion.
  4. Consider Different Perspectives:
    • Read articles, watch videos, or research online to understand various perspectives on the sustainability of Blockchain technology.
    • Take notes on arguments that support and oppose the idea of Blockchain being sustainable.
  5. Self-Debate:
    • Imagine you are participating in a debate. Write down arguments for both sides (YES and NO) as well as considerations for being unsure (DON’T KNOW).
  6. Reflect on Persuasive Arguments:
    • Reflect on which arguments you find most convincing.
    • Consider whether any of the new information changes your initial stance.
  7. Document Any Changes in Your Opinion:
    • If you change your stance, write down the argument that most convinced you to change your mind.
    • Summarise your final stance and explain why you hold this opinion after your research and reflection.
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