Once upon a time, a shoreline was buried by enough garbage to make it invisible, which told the unfortunate nickname "toilet bowl". Now the Philippines Manila Bay beach is unmistakably clean compared to a few months ago, a change so sudden and extreme that it brought tears to the residents' eyes.
The cleanup started on January 27, when 5,000 volunteers descended on Manila Bay to remove over 45 tons of garbage, marking the start of a nationwide environmental rehabilitation campaign. But two months before this massive movement began, there was a silent revolution already underway.
During the first week of December 2018, Brooklyn-based Bounties Network collected three tons of garbage from Manila Bay over two days through a pilot project that paid a small network of people, mostly fishermen, for each cache of garbage with one digital currency based on the Ethereum system.
You may also like:
Mostly non-bank-using Philippine fishermen, this was a first-class experience with a crypto competition. It is one that can prove crucial to enable poor communities around the world to take up arms in the fight against humanity's waste, starting at the source of the largest part of world pollution.
There are signs that this recycling-to-digital payment industry may just be about to take off. Earlier in September 201
The fact that both of these pioneers have chosen the Philippines as their first place is not surprising considering the country's contribution to the Sea Waste. A Wall Street Journal study in 2015 showed that the Philippines is the third largest emitter of plastic waste in global seas, and emits nearly two million metric tons of waste per year. Only China and Indonesia produce more plastic waste.
About 80% of marine plastics in developing countries come from areas of high poverty, IBM researchers have discovered. That insight could now inspire a revolution in the recycling of plastic waste to strengthen poverty-stricken people in these regions. Other projects are already organized by Bounties Network in Thailand and Indonesia, and by Plastic Bank in Indonesia and Haiti, with plans for global expansion in the coming year.
The Philippines, a country with the ability to adopt new technology, offers the perfect backdrop to test the new recycling model.
Using digital payouts to combat marine pollution, it can be one of the most striking examples of how this new world of money can best be exploited
"Bounties Network got the Coins.ph partnership to ensure people could switch Ethereum to fiat [currency] says Simona Pop, co-founder of the Bounties Network.
Using digital payouts to combat marine pollution can be one of the most striking examples of how this new world of money can be put to good use. The world's most disenfranchised society often lacks formal bank accounts, but is often the source and victims of seemingly insurmountable plastic case challenges. shoes, baby dolls and slippers The waste has turned the bay water toxic, which actually remains a major challenge for the government's rehabilitation teringsprogram.
Nevertheless, there are recycling habits that digital payout programs teach these communities that will be more valuable in the long run than any superficial garbage removal.
"It's like we kill two birds with a stone," says Christina Gallano, a technical project manager who monitors the Bounties Network project. "We educate people and make them realize the benefits of having a clean environment, as well as the impact it will have in the long run, such as a greater amount of fish."
In some cases this means saving as much as 50% of the original funds that would otherwise be spent on third party fees – Simona Pop
While Bounties Network has taken a green drop approach, the Plastic Bank method also tries to involve commercial players . "Companies of all kinds can use our free program on their basic smartphone to run their businesses and accept Plastic Bank's digital rewards as an alternative to cash payments," Frankson says. Local grocery stores or banks can handle a point of sale system, real-time tracking, automatic reporting, employee access and immediate digital receipts.
Then there is the great cost-saving potential resulting from This disruption, which distributes both finances and fulfills and avoids traditional banks and their fees.
"In some cases this means saving as much as 50% of the original funds that would otherwise be spent on third-party fees, which is why we have received a lot of incoming interest from big non-profits to continue this pilot on others places with different usage cases, says Pop.
Bounties Networks two-day Manila Bay project employed fishermen for about $ 2.50 1.97 an hour, which is almost twice an entire day's salary for some at the minimum wage in the Philippines. The final bill for cleanup came to $ 700 (£ 550) for about three metric tons of waste management; the same results using the official government program would have cost $ 10,500 (£ 8,280).
The kind of bang for the money is Impressive, no matter how you measure it, Real-world transformations created by these pilot projects are testament that blockchain technology can have material benefits over money. A cleaner Manila Bay can only be the start.
–  Join more than a million Future fans by liking us to Facebook or follow us on Twitter ] Instagram .
If you liked this story, register the weekly bbc.com newsletter called "If You Only Read 6 Things This Week". A hand-picked selection of stories from BBC Future, Culture, Capital and Travel, delivered to your inbox every Friday.