IBM looks to tackle plastic waste with new cloud data platform

Discarded bottles and other plastics

IBM is building a new data platform hosted on its cloud to track plastic waste and recovery globally. The news comes as Big Blue becomes a supporting member of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste.

The platform, which the Alliance calls Plastics Recovery Insight and Steering Model (PRISM), will serve as a single data source to help spread how organizations have improved their waste-management decisions and programs.

PRISM will enable users to review and combine various datasets to tackle waste. It’ll initially focus on plastic consumption and collection; plastic waste generated and leaking into the environment; and waste management and recycling solutions in place. Additional data sets will be available as the tool expands.

PRISM aims to enable users to integrate and scale disparate datasets without compromising existing security. Development began with the support of IBM Garage.

Nick Kolesch, vice president for projects at the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, said a very significant obstacle in combating the plastic waste challenge is “how to bring together the multitude of data that exists in a way that's verifiable, flexible and actionable”.

"IBM Cloud provides the flexibility to convene stakeholders and value chain participants to securely contribute data, with an easy path for migration, hosting, and user access. We are pleased that IBM has joined our efforts, and look forward to their contribution of solutions, advanced technologies, and capabilities in pursuit of our mission,” Kolesch said.

Manish Chawla, global industry managing director of energy, resources, and manufacturing at IBM, said plastics play an “essential role in our global economy, from simple packaging and shipping, to critical, life-saving materials for hospitals and healthcare workers.”

"By harnessing the power of cloud and artificial intelligence we can bring together valuable and disparate pieces of data in a secured and flexible environment where everyone from Alliance members to governments and regulators can collaborate to address this global challenge,” Chawla said.

The Alliance to End Plastic Waste was formed in January 2019, comprising more than 50 member companies, project partners, allies, and supporters with a commitment to help end plastic waste. It aims to raise $1.5 billion over five years to fund programs to deal with waste and support creating a circular economy that reuses plastic and other waste materials.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.