Resource Use

73 per cent fully engaged in Welsh digital DRS pilot

The full results of Polytag’s pilot digital deposit return scheme (DRS) in Wales have been returned, revealing a high level of participation amongst eligible households.

Polytag DRSA collaboration between the Welsh Government, Conwy Council, Ecosurety, WRAP Cymru, and technology supplier Polytag, residents throughout Conwy were granted access to the ‘tag and trace’ technology, which operates through using the existing kerbside collection system to return deposit containers, rather than requiring their return at designated drop-off points. 271 households were involved in the four week trial, with participating residents required to download an app onto their mobile device in order to scan ‘specially labelled bottles’. These were then to be placed into ordinary recycling bins for collection, after which the deposit would be returned.

Results of the trial

The trial returned a 97 per cent engagement, with 90 per cent of registered households scanning four or more bottles, and 73 per cent scanning all six. The full results are as follows:

  • 73 per cent of households who took part participated fully
  • 237 registered households demonstrated ‘strong participation’ by scanning more than half of their bottles – 90 per cent of registered households scanned at least 4 out of 6 bottles during the pilot period
  • 193 registered households showed excellent participation in the pilot by scanning all of their bottles – 73 per cent of registered households scanned all 6 out of 6 bottles throughout the trial
  • 1,268 out of 1,430 scanned bottles were recovered from the kerbside by the collection team during the pilot – 89 per cent of all scanned bottles were recovered by recycling collection teams

The scheme observed positive household adoption, with participants demonstrating a keenness to be involved, as well as reporting the technology as being ‘easy to use’. This could potentially be attributed to the pilot being compatible with existing infrastructure – according to the report, a user-friendly digital DRS would be seen by residents as preferable to returning containers to designated sites, as it would ‘complement existing and well-established household recycling processes’.

However, digital DRS could be integrated into traditional systems, accompanying reverse vending machines in order to offer households ‘greater choice and flexibility in terms of how and when they recycle’. Ultimately, the aim of the pilot is to see the expansion of the system nationwide, whether in tandem with traditional DRS or not, hoping to boost collection rates and reduce litter to drive the country towards its Zero Waste targets.

Emma Hallett, Team Manager of the Collaborative Change Programme, commented: “WRAP Cymru is pleased to have been involved with this innovative work investigating the possibility of using the well-established recycling collections already provided by Welsh councils as part of a deposit return scheme. This has the potential to build on the great recycling progress we have already seen and help Wales to deliver on its recycling ambitions.”