In conversation with Empower’s founder, Wilhelm Myrer on #Techforgood. Diving deep on how we can use technologies and cross-industry competencies to disrupt and make the world a vastly better place.
Ogoori traces marine plastic through Empower's blockchain technology. Wilhelm Myrer is the CEO and Founder of Empower, an organisation that was founded in January 2018 to incentivises the collection of plastic waste, kick-starting waste management systems and building transparency in the supply chains of recyclers and plastic producers, whilst also fighting poverty.
“Perhaps it comes from the fact that, with 3 siblings, we were always taught that everything should be fair and even, I guess that might be why I ended up in law school, and also why I believe we need decentralisation and equal opportunities for everyone, that everyone should get the tools to make a difference and change their own lives to the better. I think that this somehow can be translated into our current vision in Empower, empowering people to do something direct and transparent with the waste problem, fighting both pollution and poverty at the same time, making the world a little bit fairer.”
Empower in More Than 15 Countries
Empower is now in more than 15 countries including Scandinavian countries: Sweden, Norway, and Iceland; African countries: Tanzania and Cameroon; and many Asian countries: Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal for instance, but not limited to these continents. Myrer said that he often gets requests from local organisations, so they were able to expand to all these countries. He wanted to make sure that the system works everywhere. “It is the same here in Norway. We need to know how it works here by taking the best from each place and finding a solution.”
Hamarapur cleanup with Indias Barn, March 2019. Photo: Empower.
Collaboration with Ogoori
Through Empower's blockchain technology, Ogoori ensures both transparency and traceability in relation to the origin of ocean plastic. This is done by creating 'Digital passports' for digitalising the value chain that follows the materials all the way from the collection point to recycling, and end of use.
“It is the first project where we really build a digital DNA for materials that allow us to follow it from clean-up into products, and then continued through multiple life cycles. This is a great example of how the whole value chain needs to work together and interact to create circular systems that in the end will be creating values for everyone. This is a win-win - for people and planet.”
Myrer is educated as a lawyer, and has only worked in companies he started himself in diverse fields, such as oil exploration, mining, football/sports management, solar energy and blockchain technology.
Myrer pinned it down on the drive to show that any challenge can be overcome that led him to work in broad fields. He believed that it is down to “motivation, drive and persistence.”
Myrer's Drive Behind Empower
“For Empower it was a bit different, that was an idea that came up during a conversation and it just made so much sense in a global context with the environmental challenges and need for new circular infrastructure. So, the main driver there has been that this is something that the world needs, regardless if everyone sees it yet or not, we can't leave the world to our kids, without at least the tools to handle all the problems our linear economy and consumption has caused.” he said.
Myrer has three children that he said has seem to have become lovely people as being his main achievement so far, “I guess that is 90% down to luck and people around who provide support when needed!”
Testing out the version 1.0 of the Empower Deposit App, April 2018, Hoddevik, Norway. Photo: Empower.
Myrer is fighting for tech for good. For Myrer, tech for good means “applying new, disruptive technologies to solve problems that still are being solved in an old way. People are conservative, while technology develops faster than ever.” Myrer believed that technologies and cross-industry competencies are needed to disrupt and make the world a vastly better place.
“I think that to overcome the arising global challenges, it being plastic waste, CO2 levels or virus and disease, we need technology to allow us to act fast enough and handle it.”
“We can't afford to have such an inefficient system that creates millions of tons of trash every day much longer.”
TechForGood To Disrupt Old Ways
For Myrer, there is a need to combine people who understand different technologies like “blockchain, AI, solar energy, social media, batteries, quantum computing, and experts from any existing industry, traditional science,” so that new ways of building the next generation of industries, societies and the basic infrastructure that can make the world sustainable in the long run.
As of writing this article, Myrer was working remote like many others in Norway during the coronavirus lockdown. He is worried about the situation and how coronavirus is spreading. He said that what kept him up at night was knowing that the countries that he operated in had a lack of infrastructure and scarce resources, which made it scarier.
“I'm glad that Norway took action early and closed, that is saving lives here, but still there are so many places that haven't done it or don't have the resources to do it. This again is a driver, just with the resources spent on NGOs, aid, UN and others today, it should have been possible to build infrastructure and systems to tackle this. We need to look at everything again, apply efficient and transparent solutions and technologies. Hopefully, people will start to demand that change when we get through this, and one of the answers is #techforgood”
Myrer aims to help create a world with no waste, where a circular economy replaces the linear one, whilst also making the world a little bit fairer. “We can't afford to have such an inefficient system that creates millions of tons of trash every day much longer.”
Read more about our partner's work: www.empower.eco