According to a recent report from local news outlet The Philippine Star, Makati City-based cryptocurrency company CypherOdin Inc. has partnered with the Pasig River Rehabilitation Council (PRRC) to attempt to clean the heavily polluted water source that cuts across the Philippines. Mariano Jose Villafuerte IV, CEO of CypherOdin, believes blockchain technology may be the answer to the river's pollution problem.
Pasig is one of the world's most polluted rivers, dumping up to 63,700 tons of plastic into the ocean every year. According to a PRRC study using water quality data from 2009 to 2016, the San Juan River, one of Pasig's three tributaries, frequently exceeds a biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) concentration of 100 mg/L, which is much higher than 7 mg/L, the required level for Class C bodies of water in the country. A high BOD means there is less dissolved oxygen available in the water, which may cause fish and other aquatic organisms to die.
CypherOdin intends to combat this pollution by installing internet of things (IoT) devices along the river to track its water quality, tide levels, and other data. According to Villafuerte, the data would ultimately help the team determine a course of action:
"We will collect all the data we gather from these IoT [devices] and process them so we will have comprehensive information on where the plastics and garbage are coming from, how they are moving, among others. This would allow us to analyze and come up with recommendations on how to best clean up the rivers of this debris."
The company also plans to educate the communities along the Pasig's riverbanks about proper waste disposal. Villafuerte hopes to incentivize environmental protection efforts through his company's cryptocurrency, botcoin, which would be awarded to individuals for collecting garbage on the river and refraining from dumping plastics into it. He believes the botcoin incentive "would encourage the community … to respect the river because they will be earning something from it."
However, CypherOdin's goal of cleaning the river is lofty at best – with all the pollution present in the water (and the high generation of waste from surrounding urban centers), blockchain may not be the Pasig's savior. Plus, Villafuerte and his team's efforts rely upon residents engaging in environmental stewardship to acquire botcoin, but that aim may never be met.
The Pasig River will serve as CypherOdin's first proof of concept (PoC). The team initially wanted to test its tech on Boracay Island, but the Philippine resort destination closed on April 26 to tourists and nonresidents due to its waste management issues and other environmental problems. The Philippines plans to environmentally rehabilitate the island over the next six months.
Because of the island's closure, Villafuerte chose Pasig "as the next most important body of water in the country." He believes the insight his team gains from this PoC could be used for future clean-up projects around the world, like with the Amazon, Yangtze, and Ganges rivers.
Villafuerte called this type of work "blockchain as a service" or "data as a service." As a bonus, he said CypherOdin would provide such service to the Philippine government for free.
Other groups have recently experimented with blockchain technology as a tool for environmental stewardship (or have indicated their plans to do so). Last month, the Liverpool City Council, for example, announced a partnership with the nonprofit Poseidon Foundation to use the company's blockchain platform to become a climate-positive city by the end of 2020. Like with the Pasig River effort, the city council also plans to educate its residents about climate impact and environmental concerns.