GFT Designers Win Hackathon With Recycling Game

Using blockchain and NFTs, a virtual game encourages people to collect recyclable materials and reduce pollution.

Gaming a pollution solution

The world faces a mounting problem with pollution and waste. Many of the materials we use in our daily lives can be recycled, but our communities don’t do enough to encourage it. Unfortunately, most people don’t know what to do with their recyclable trash. Of the 40 million tons of plastic waste Americans generated in 2021, only 5 percent was recycled. Eighty-five percent wound up in landfills.

At GFT, we are dedicated to reducing our environmental impact and creating a more sustainable world for future generations.

So our software development and design team decided to tackle the recycling problem. What if, they wondered, recycling could be encouraged by playing a game that used blockchain and nonfungible tokens (NFTs) to create a reward system, like the popular online game Pokémon Go?

Virtual credits for real-world trash

The team developed an application that combines sustainability goals with NFT rewards for recycling. Users place recyclable items in collection hubs and receive virtual credits, or game coins, with which they can buy NFTs.

The recyclables collected by municipalities can be sold to recycling cooperatives, offsetting the cost of the physical collection program.

Player information, NFTs and rankings are maintained via blockchain to keep the data secure. The blockchain architecture allows for a decentralized approach, in which players can receive credits — and rankings — from any participating community.

People enjoy playing virtual games, and the NFTs they receive for their real-world trash can be used for in-game prizes and other rewards. Because the NFTs are registered via blockchain, the more trash a player deposits, the greater their online recognition.

Technology that educates as well as entertains

The team’s design won first place in the GFT US 2022 Digital Hackathon, an in-house competition that encourages innovative thinking among employees.

Both the team and GFT hope that the game will be a fun way to encourage more communities to embrace recycling. The game represents technology and innovation that not only educates but also entertains, addressing a significant real-world problem with virtual technologies.

GFT plans to conduct market research, design the physical collection hubs and develop the gaming environment by the end of 2023. Deployment of the NFTs and monetization of the trash exchanges will follow by mid-2024.


We wanted to make the game something that allowed people to actually change things. We didn’t want it to just be entirely digital. We wanted to merge the physical world and the digital world.”

— Murilo Mendonca, GFT front-end developer, São Paulo.


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