Cutting edge ‘tag and trace’ household recycling technology

Creating a more circular recycling system

Polytag enables brands to engage with their customers to tag and trace specific items of packaging, resulting in a high value material feedstock. It has the potential to become a disruptive recycling technology that can isolate plastic and other valuable resources such as aluminium from the UK recycling system, helping to create a traceable, closed-loop lifecycle for thousands of widely produced products which could benefit brand, consumer and environment.
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How Polytag works

Polytag uses a unique printing system to place a Product Assigned Code (PAC) onto pre-identified packaging at the point of production. This code will be unique to the individual product – akin to a ‘product fingerprint’, enabling it to be traced throughout the system.

Unique codes

Each product will have two identical codes printed on it – one  visible one, to be scanned by the consumer, the other – a UV spectrum code - by for use by the brand, at the point of production and then Polytag, when the packaging is returned for recycling.

It is envisaged that once a product is ready to be recycled, the consumer scans the PAC code using the Polytag mobile phone app. This pairs the packaging with the code stored on the Polytag cloud and enables the participating brand to identify the location of its Polytagged packaging. Consumers will be provided with instructions on how to clean and prepare the packaging for the recycling process.

Same-batch packaging processing

Once the platform is fully adopted, rather than placing the Polytag-scanned products in a kerbside recycling bin, it is intended that consumers will arrange for a collection or simply return the packaging to participating retailers or community recycling champions from where it will be collected by Polytag.

Packaging returned to a Polytag-enabled MRF will be scanned again. Same-batch packaging is regrouped and once a sufficient quantity has been collected, it is recycled into high-grade plastic pellets or granulate that can be returned to the packaging site for the participating brand.


"We are delighted that Ecosurety recognises the need for investment in innovative new recycling technologies through its financial support of this trial. We look forward to securing some valuable insights into the functionality of our technology and progressing to a position of market readiness." Phil Sutton CEO, Econpro

Community trial

Starting in October 2019, a 40-day community trial funded by Ecosurety is testing the real-world viability of the 'tag and trace' technology. 60 households across Wirral, Merseyside will take part in the trial which will enable Econpro to gather key insights from consumers on the usability of the Polytag technology platform, ensuring it is developed in a way that maximises the potential for a more circular recycling system to be created.

A multitude of benefits

The Polytag system brings a significant range of benefits for consumer engagement, the environment, brands and recycling facilities.

consumer scanning packaging

Consumer engagement and empowerment

Consumers are placing more pressure on brands to account for the full lifecycle of their packaging. Polytag enables brands to communicate with their customers about the lifecycle of a product, recognising the consumer’s role in the recycling system and empowering brands to incentivise their customers to recycle.

Environmental impact reduction

By isolating packaging feedstocks at an early stage, the Polytag technology eliminates the need for so many energy intensive reprocessing stages.

This approach improves the efficiency of the existing recycling system by reducing CO2 emissions as well as moving it towards a more circular system where brands work with consumers to keep materials away from landfill and in circulation for longer.

plastic recycling line

Unique dataset

Polytag’s tracking software will offer brands ample opportunity to capture data regarding the location, lifecycle, consumer habits and collected volumes of their packaging.

It will present recycling rates for different packaging products and provide evidence for forthcoming EPR changes and recycling regulations.

The future of Material Recycling Facilities

While the marking applications can be integrated into the packaging supply chain, it is envisaged Polytag will set up a series of own-brand MRF’s across the country, growing in line with demand.

These MRFs will deal specifically with high-grade feedstock, which will be produced at a higher rate and significantly lower price than existing feedstocks. The high-grade feedstocks can be delivered back to the manufacturer thereby creating a loop out of a previously linear chain.

White plastic polymer

Target markets

The target markets for Polytag include corporate brands including high street retailers and multinational manufacturers who use high quantities of plastic PET, HDPE packaging or aluminium.

"The potential disruptive impact of Polytag on the current recycling system is significant. Not only will Polytag offer brands a unique opportunity to engage with their customers - a vital cog in the recycling system – it has the potential to add value to a packaging waste material whilst improving the circularity of our recycling system." Jon Brookes Photo Jon Brookes Head of partnerships

Want to find out more?

If you would like to find out more about Polytag, please contact our team.
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