Northern Irish residents rewarded for recycling in DRS app trial

The green-tech start-up company CryptoCycle has launched a recycling app, Reward4Waste, making returning single-use packaging accessible and practical in the run up to a deposit return scheme (DRS) being introduced into law.

The app will be trialled in 2,000 households in Whitehead, Northern Ireland over the course of eight weeks, providing a financial or charitable incentive for the public to recycle.

DAERA Minister and group outside of SPAR
DAERA Minister supports Reward4Waste launch
CryptoCycle is working in collaboration with Bryson Recycling, the providers of Whitehead’s recycling collection service, and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

The trial will involve users scanning the QR code of items made from a range of materials, such as plastic, glass and tin, into the app when they recycle it. They are then given Reward Points.

CryptoCycle’s goal is to have this code placed on the packaging during the manufacturing of the item, which will then allow blockchain technology to ‘track and trace recyclable packaging through the circular economy’.

Every time a Whitehead resident uses the app to recycle an item, they will receive 10 or 20 Reward Points, with 100 points worth £1. These points can then go towards three local charities or be redeemed as SPAR vouchers.

Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Edwin Poots said: "Trials of new ideas and technologies that aim to boost our recycling rates and tackle litter are very welcome. I’m particularly heartened by the collaborative approach taken in this pilot.

“It’s great to see businesses from different parts of the value chain working together, from retailers to recyclers. I’m consulting on the detail of a statutory deposit return scheme for bottles and cans early next year. I look forward to seeing the results of this trial fed into that formal process.”

A joint DRS is soon to be launched in Northern Ireland, England and Wales to encourage members of the public to recycle drinks bottles, rather than littering and diverting them to landfill.

This follows a cross-party group of MPs calling for an all-in DRS in August, a move supported by 84 per cent of the public.

Scotland is not involved in this initiative as it already has its own plans in place for a national DRS that became law in May this year.

When Scotland proposed its DRS in 2019, it received heavy criticism from the Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation (Alupro). It warned that the scheme could cause an increase of 823 million more plastic bottles entering the market.

Other DRS facilities have been criticised due to the worry that more of them will damage the established council recycling collections that can already recycle drinks bottles. This loss in material could lead to less material sold to offset the cost of the collection round.

However, this issue is not expected to arise in the case of CryptoCycle’s initiative, as it will keep the materials on the doorstep and kerbside.

Eric Randall, Director or Bryson Recycling added: “We are excited to be part of the Reward4Waste trial in Whitehead. At Bryson Recycling we pride ourselves on finding innovative ways to encourage people to recycle the right way.

“We focus on collecting high-quality materials through our kerbside box service, meaning they can be recycled locally, which is better for the environment, our local economy and creates jobs. Over 85 per cent of the materials we collect are recycled here in Northern Ireland.”

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