Deep Dives

How The Excess Materials Exchange Helps Companies Take A Circular Route

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Article Summary:

ProRail, the organization responsible for the maintenance and extension of the Dutch railways infrastructure, is constantly trying to figure out what to do with old railway tracks and sleepers, the rectangular blocks made out of reinforced concrete and steel that keep railway tracks in place and underpin their ability to support railbound vehicles and machines.

Normally, most of the tracks would be sold for scrap at a relatively low price and the sleepers recycled by crushing the concrete and melting the steel. But what if the railway tracks could find a second life as as construction beams in buildings and the sleepers find new uses as higher value objects such as counter-terror blockades?

That’s where Excess Materials Exchange (EME) comes in. The Dutch startup, which was co-founded by a former green infrastructure project manager at Shell, is using blockchain and AI to track and trace materials across industries and match those who no longer want certain materials with those that can use them.

It is yet another example of how startups and scaleups can help traditional companies solve the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals.

About the author

Jennifer L. Schenker

Jennifer L. Schenker, an award-winning journalist, has been covering the global tech industry from Europe since 1985, working full-time, at various points in her career for the Wall Street Journal Europe, Time Magazine, International Herald Tribune, Red Herring and BusinessWeek. She is currently the editor-in-chief of The Innovator, an English-language global publication about the digital transformation of business. Jennifer was voted one of the 50 most inspiring women in technology in Europe in 2015 and 2016 and was named by Forbes Magazine in 2018 as one of the 30 women leaders disrupting tech in France. She has been a World Economic Forum Tech Pioneers judge for 20 years. She lives in Paris and has dual U.S. and French citizenship.