Coca-Cola, BanQu launch payment platform for informal waste reclaimers, boosting bankability

19th March 2021 By: Tasneem Bulbulia - Senior Contributing Editor Online

In recognition of Global Recycling Day on March 18, beverage company Coca-Cola South Africa and blockchain-based supply chain and economic passport platform BanQu are rolling out a payment platform to financially empower informal waste reclaimers and buyback centres in a boost to the local recycling sector.

Global Recycling Day highlights the important role that recycling plays in preserving precious primary resources through a circular economy and in securing the future of the planet.

“Waste reclaimers who collect waste packaging perform one of the toughest, yet most important jobs in the circular economy and, up until now, they have remained mostly invisible and unbanked.

“This innovative blockchain-based solution provides a platform to financially empower waste reclaimers and small buyback centres across South Africa,” says Coca-Cola Africa sustainability director David Drew.

More than 60 000 waste reclaimers in South Africa, many of whom are unable to find work or formal employment, earn a living by collecting packaging waste. Much of what reclaimers collect is sold through small buyback centres before ultimately reaching large recyclers.

BanQu creates a permanent, personal record of the transactions for each waste picker, enabling them to demonstrate their earnings to access credit.

It also enables cashless transactions that reduce the risk associated with cash to both reclaimers and buyback centres and enables direct financial support for waste reclaimers.

By recording the contribution of the informal sector as a whole to the recycling value chain, the platform improves both understanding and recognition of the important contribution of waste reclaimers and buyback centres, the companies posit.

Coca-Cola selected BanQu as a partner based on the impact it has achieved to date and its record with working with small-scale farmers across Africa.

Since the launch in mid-February, the system has already registered over 300 waste pickers and recorded over 4 900 transactions, totalling over 200 000 kg of recyclables.

“BanQu’s online automated supply chain tracking and payment system uses blockchain technology to track and trace recycled material across the value chain, providing price transparency for both buyers and sellers. Reclaimers don’t require expensive smart phones - the system sends a simple SMS when a payment is processed,” explains BanQu CEO Ashish Gadnis.

The payments solution is also fully integrated with mobile money applications, enabling reclaimers to withdraw cash from automatic teller machines or store their earnings in secure e-wallets.

Most importantly, the new technology enables waste reclaimers to develop a financial record and promotes their financial inclusion into the economy.

Waste reclaimers are able to build a financial history, an economic passport that validates their existence in a global supply chain. The platform enables a traceable, transparent and, most importantly, equitable value chain that empowers waste reclaimers as well as buyback centres.

For small buyback centres, many of them operating in township areas, BanQu enables owners to better understand their businesses using automated recording and tracking of transactions.

Geolocation capabilities provide data in real-time about the types of materials collected in particular areas.