The first minister for Wales, Mark Drakeford, visited Brecon on Friday to see how a trial digital deposit recycling scheme is working.
Brecon is the first town in the world to test this particular type of digital deposit scheme. During the trial, people claim 10p for every specially-marked bottle they recycle by scanning it with an app.
Around 1,200 households in Brecon have registered to take part in the scheme. Cans or bottles can be recycled through normal waste collections at home, over the counter in shops or through special recycling machines located around the town.
The trial, which runs until 1 November, is exploring how digital technology can be used in a deposit return scheme for drink containers.
“We’re committed to introducing a deposit return scheme in Wales and it’s important we explore the different ways a scheme could be delivered,” Drakeford said.
“Wales is the third best country in the world for recycling but we need to go further if we are to reach net zero and tackle littering. The learning from this trial will help us better understand recycling patterns, which is an important part of reaching that target.”
Duncan Midwood, of Circularity Solutions Ltd, the project lead and head of the consortium leading the pilot, said: “Wales is leading the way in supporting the development of Digital DRS which promises to transform the way packaging is collected for recycling across the World. The learnings gained from the trial in Brecon will help industry and legislators understand how Digital DRS could work within a UK DRS to increase levels of recycling further.”
Commenting on the development, Alice Rackley, recycling tech pioneer and chief executive of Polytag said it is “vital” that the industry delivers a “long-term, scalable solution” with “minimal disruptions, interference, and manual labour”.
Polytag recently delivered a world-first project with major UK retailer Ocado, rewarding over 20,000 customers with rewards in a 50 day period, via integrating unique QR codes to Ocado’s own milk bottle labels right at printing point.
Rackley said it is “paramount” that a digital solution “avoids unnecessary costs, carbon emissions and the inconvenience of traditional RVMs”.
“Following the success of our nationwide project with Ocado Retail, we are pleased to see the Welsh government’s local scheme in Brecon receiving equal amounts of positive comments, further bolstering our industry’s collective effort towards achieving a nationwide DDRS,” Rackley said.
“Echoing Wales’ first minister, Mark Drakeford, it is vital that we explore the different ways in which a DRS can be delivered that will benefit brands, retailers, customers, and the supply chain for a long-term, scalable solution with minimal disruptions, interference, and manual labour.
“A logistically viable solution is essential to bolster recycling rates in the UK. To deliver our successful project with Ocado, Polytag generated and stored over 2.5 million unique-every-time serialised codes that were directly integrated and printed onto milk bottle labels, ensuring no disruption or unnecessary manual labour. Invisible UV tags were also applied, enabling MRFs to scan bottles when they were recycled which gave Ocado access to unprecedented insights into it’s packaging.
“It is Polytag’s scalability that was the key to the project, meeting the demands of thousands of consumers at a rate of over 350 a day and over 20,000 rewards claimed in a 50-day period. As the industry looks ahead to a large scale, nationwide DRS scheme, it will be paramount that a digital solution can be deployed successfully to avoid the unnecessary costs, carbon emissions and inconvenience of traditional Reverse Vending Machine models.”