Residents in Conwy County are being asked to take part in a pilot for a new digital method of tracking recycling, helping Wales towards to a zero-waste economy.
The four-week trial – the first of its kind in Wales - will involve a number of homes in the Colwyn Heights area who can earn rewards for the local school by scanning their recycling.
Conwy County Borough Council is working with the Welsh Government, Polytag Ltd and WRAP to trial the new deposit return scheme (DRS), which has been partly funded by Ecosurety.
In the new trial, residents will be visited by recruiters and invited to sign up, then given a set of plastic water bottles with the Polytag unique codes. Once they’ve used the bottles, they will scan them using a free app before putting them out for recycling as usual.
The bottles will then be scanned by the Council’s household waste recycling team on collection day.
Integrate with existing waste collections
For each bottle scanned at either end of the DRS process, householders will receive a digital token worth 20p. The tokens will then be donated to raise funds for Ysgol Pen y Bryn, the local primary school. Interviews with residents and recycling crews after the trial will provide more information on how the scheme could be used across Wales.
Digital DRS schemes allow local authorities, brands and regulators to monitor recycling rates, so they can analyse the habits of households. Unlike DRS machines at supermarkets, this pilot uses the existing recycling collection, meaning households don’t have to make a special effort to take part.
The technology has been developed by Polytag, based in Deeside, North Wales. The company has already proven the technology’s success following a trial on the Wirral that was funded by Ecosurety, where 91% of tagged packaging was successfully recycled.
Phil Sutton, Polytag founder and Chief Technology Officer, said “We’re delighted that Polytag’s technology has been recognised by a national government as a solution to improve recycling rates exponentially."
"We are confident that Polytag will integrate seamlessly with Wales’ existing waste collections and that consumers will see the benefits immediately – we can’t wait for the pilot to begin!”
A more flexible system for consumers
Ecosurety head of innovation and policy Robbie Staniforth commented “Proving this concept is vitally important to demonstrate the technological capabilities to Governments and other stakeholders. We must embrace innovation if we are to make our economy more resource efficient."
"We are proud to have supported the trial and will continue to lend our expertise in this area over the coming years.”
Cllr Greg Robbins, Cabinet Member for Environment and Transportation, said "We’re delighted to be taking part in this pilot recycling scheme and encourage residents in Colwyn Heights to get involved. It’s an exciting opportunity to use technology to track and make the most of recyclable materials while raising money for the local school."
Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said "I would like to thank all partners – including Polytag, Conwy County Borough Council and WRAP – for the work they’ve put in not only to ensure the trial can take place, but also to ensure it can do so safely and in line with Covid-19 guidance."
"Measures such as these will allow a more flexible system for consumers than having to return items such as bottles or containers themselves, and will link in well with existing infrastructure already in place at the household recycling collection systems run by local authorities."
"By taking advantage of new technologies, we can move closer on our route to a circular economy – and I look forward to seeing the results of the trial once it has taken place."
WRAP Cymru’s Emma Hallett added “WRAP Cymru is pleased to be involved in this pilot and we look forward to working with the project partners. We hope this will give useful insights into the potential for a digital deposit return scheme and how it can contribute to Wales’s ambitious waste strategy.”
Marketing projects specialist
Ben joined the team at the beginning of 2015 and helps drive marketing communications and projects for Ecosurety, including project managing the launch of the Ecosurety Exploration Fund and website content development.