World-First Digital Deposit and Return Pilot

December 21, 2021 | Written by Rachel Warren

Seeing an impressive 94% return rate

The IWMA (Irish Waste Management Association) in conjunction with Panda and Reward4Waste, conducted a trial to prove the concept of a Digital Deposit Return Scheme (Digital DRS) using participants from Panda’s household waste collection in Dublin. The trial took place in July / August 2021 for 4 weeks.

This was a world-first pilot, testing citizen engagement and return rates for digital deposit and return technology.

The key differences with this trial in comparison to others is customers paid a deposit on the items purchased and redeemed the deposit when they placed the containers in their recycling bin at home. The trial also tracked the containers from the point of purchase, consumer, collector, and arrival at a sorting facility.

The goal of the trial was to prove that when using Digital DRS, the percentage return of packaging in the system is comparable to that achieved by the ‘return to retail’ conventional deposit return schemes (DRS) that uses a combination of reverse vending machines (RVM) and manual take-back.

The trial demonstrated a 94% return rate with 700 containers delivered to customers and 655 deposited in recycling bins using the Reward4Waste App.

How does the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) work?

  • Deposit Return Schemes are government led, with the aim to reduce litter by increasing recycling.
  • They work by adding a deposit on the price of drinks sold in plastic and glass bottles and cans, which the shopper pays at point of purchase and gets back once they’ve returned that container for recycling
  • Traditional models ask citizens to return their drinks containers back to store to get their refund, using a Reverse Vending Machine

How does Reward4Waste Digital DRS work?

  • Return points / recycling bins are given a unique code, such as a QR Code, 2D matrix code, or similar
  • Drinks containers also have a unique code such as a QR code, 2D matrix code, or similar
  • Deposits are paid on the drinks containers at point of purchase (it’s included in the price of the drink)
  • Deposits are refunded at point of recycle, with the deposit placed immediately in the users wallet within the app
  • Users simply scan the return point (whether that be a home kerbside box, a smart on-the-go bin or an RVM), scan their drinks container and the recycle is registered

Why Digital DRS?

  • We believe Deposit Return Schemes don’t need to be a chore for citizens
  • Research shows people don’t want to take their drinks bottles back to store to get their refund – this is due to many reasons and includes inconvenience such as lack of time, more online shopping and lack of mobility
  • Reward4Waste makes recycling easy – and independent research backs this up, with over 90% of respondents saying Reward4Waste was easy/very easy to use in our first validation trial in Whitehead, Northern Ireland with Bryson Recycling and MEA Borough Council, with proud support from Britvic Ireland, PepsiCo and Encirc, which took place in 2020/2021. To find out more about our trial in Whitehead click here

Read the full article below…

For more information on Reward4Waste or for an interview with the team, do please get in touch…


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