Increased traceability of recycled cardboard and containerboard packaging with the help of blockchain technology
Abstract: Producers in the cardboard and containerboard packaging industry want to, and are sometimes forced to, increase the amount of recycled fibers in packaging, but there is no way to confirm the actual composition of fibers by examining the material optically or chemically. Blockchain technology is often seen as a promising technology for data storage and it is argued that it can help increase transparency through supply chains. Thus, this thesis explores if blockchain or distributed ledger technology, can help the cardboard and containerboard packaging industry and its supply chain to meet the future challenges of traceability of recycled fibers. The thesis has a descriptive and exploratory approach. It consists of three different phases; one frame of reference study to establish basic knowledge, one literature study to understand the drivers, opportunities and challenges of applied blockchain/distributed ledger technology in a supply chain-context and an interview study to explore the drivers behind increased traceability in the cardboard and containerboard packaging industry. The results of the studies indicate that neither the usefulness of a blockchain solution nor the ease of using the technology is high enough to implement a blockchain solution in the cardboard and containerboard packaging industry today. Only two out of the three most important drivers for blockchain adoption were present within the cardboard and containerboard packaging industry. Most importantly the main driver, lack of trust, was not present within the industry as actors heavily depend on mutual trust. Compared to physical products in industries, where blockchain solutions have been found useful, not many similarities are shared with cardboard or containerboard packaging. Additionally, the technology itself is complex and there is an absence of common standards for implementation. It would demand a great effort to understand the possibilities of the technology due to the absence of large-scale success cases from other supply chains. Furthermore, there are conflicting viewpoints as found by this study whether the choice of recycled fiber over virgin fibers does guarantee a more sustainable alternative. Thus, the conclusion is that it would be more appropriate to focus on storing the overall carbon footprint as a sustainability metric instead of recycled fibers and further investigate if blockchain can offer a viable solution for storing such data.
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