WWF using blockchain to track environmental impact of products

The QR code-based blockchain play is hoping to help businesses avoid illegal, environmentally-damaging, or unethical products.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

WWF-Australia and BCG Digital Ventures have partnered to launch a new blockchain-based platform to track the environmental and ethical impact of food and products.

Launching the OpenSC platform in Sydney on Thursday, the organisations said they are hoping to help people and business avoid illegal, environmentally-damaging, or unethical products.

"Through OpenSC, businesses and consumers will have a whole new level of transparency about whether the food we eat is contributing to environmental degradation or social injustice such as slavery," said WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O'Gorman.

OpenSC works by scanning product QR codes. Once a QR code is scanned, the user is shown information about where a specific product came from, when and how it was produced, and how it travelled along the supply chain.

In order to track the products, however, a digital tag -- such as an RFID tag -- must be attached at the original point of production; this also means inserting a tag into the flesh of the animal. They must also be linked to a blockchain.

The blockchain then records the movement of the product and can also store additional information, such as the temperature of food in storage, WWF-Australia explained.

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In a bid to show how the platform hopes to reduce environmental impact, OpenSC was launched at Sydney's Aria restaurant by Australian chef Matt Moran, who cooked one of the first products to be tracked using the platform -- the Patagonian toothfish are caught in sub-Antarctic waters by Austral Fisheries, and sent to thirteen countries around the world.

Calling OpenSC a "passion project", Moran said it's important for chefs to know the origins of the produce they are cooking.

Austral hopes the platform will spark appreciation of the origin of food through education.

"We have developed technology that can reliably pinpoint the exact location where each Austral Toothfish was caught and then use machine learning to demonstrate that it was caught legally in an MSC-certified sustainable fishery, and in particular that the fish was not caught inside an established marine protected area or in an environmentally sensitive area," said BCGDV Managing Director and Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum Council on the Future of Consumption, Paul Hunyor.

"We've designed this technology to be highly compatible both with existing supply chain operations and certification systems, but also to interface with other blockchain-enabled providence solutions."

The platform was piloted by WWF and its partners, using blockchain to track tuna caught in the Pacific.

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Screenshot of Patagonian toothfish blockchain

Image: Supplied
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