Trashaus is currently working with Meituan, China’s biggest food delivery platform, tea shop chain HeyTea, and coffee chain Seesaw Coffee, to create a circular economy model for plastic waste. It has so far tracked its clients’ waste and created more than 45,000 recycled pieces including keychains, luggage tags and mobile phone cases.
Trashaus also engages consumers by allowing them to scan a QR code for, say, a coffee cup, to unlock a view of its origins via mini-programs on WeChat.
Below, we speak with Trashaus founder vAns Zhang about material traceability, the importance of data in sustainability and the future of climate tech in China.
Tell me how Trashaus does what it does.
It’s a tracing platform that helps our clients to trace where the material goes; for example, where single-use plastic goes, if others might want to recycle it and if the recycled material is safe. In future, we want to build a network to link our clients’ single-use plastic to others who can use that plastic in different industries or brands.
We have very good connections so we are able to collect data from every stakeholder in the value chain.
Who are these stakeholders?
The stakeholders are, for example, those who make the virgin materials, to the [plastic waste] collector, to the factory that breaks it down to plastic granules, and others.
We collect all the data and integrate it. With the mini WeChat program, consumers can scan a QR code on an end product and see the entire process—where the material was collected, how it was processed and how it turned into the product they are holding.
Some people are looking at blockchain for traceability or tracking technology. Are you just using data feeds from all of these stakeholders? Or is there something that marks each piece?
At this stage, there are not so many stakeholders so, currently, we are only using a very simple database. But if we want to use blockchain, it is absolutely possible. With more and more partners jumping in, if we incorporate partners like recyclers, like logistic planners, obviously, we will need this technology for future applications.
Give me a sense of scale of how many people are using this WeChat mini program and checking on where their products are coming from?
We currently have over 2,000 in our own mini-program, and we also provide customized mini-programs for our clients. Currently, we have over 5,000 consumers that have already used our services. We have had over 10,000 scans.