Polytag tests viability of Digital Deposit Return Schemes in “world-first” trial with Ocado Retail

Recycling technology company Polytag and Ocado Retail have announced a “world-first” trial to test the viability of a Digital Deposit Return Scheme (DDRS) in the UK.

Online supermarket Ocado Retail says the trial will test the feasibility of applying “unique-every-time” QR codes to packaging, which will be applied to its recyclable two-pint and four-pint milk bottles over the next 12 weeks.

It says this will enable households to scan their discarded packaging from home before recycling it and redeem their deposit through an intuitive mobile app when legislation is enforced.

Upon scanning the QR codes, consumers will receive instructions and a clear call-to-action for shoppers, further simplifying the recycling process, Ocado Retail says.

We’re looking forward to seeing how our customers respond to the trial and how many would redeem their deposit at home.

A recent report from the independent environmental consultancy, Resource Futures, estimated that an all-in DDRS would result in cost savings of £3.4bn over 11 years, compared to the reverse vending machine (RVM) model.

A digital scheme is likely to be less carbon-intensive, Ocado Retail says, mainly due to not installing RVMs across the country and negating the need to drive to collection points.

Senior Packaging and Sustainability Manager at Ocado Retail Ltd, Laura Fernandez, said: “Polytag’s digital platform offers plenty of environmental and economic benefits for retailers and customers alike – it’s easy to use and when used at scale, could have a hugely positive impact on the nation’s deposit return scheme.

“We’re looking forward to seeing how our customers respond to the trial and how many would redeem their deposit at home.”

Polytag has also developed a UV tagging technology, which, when implemented in Material Recycling Facilities, identifies items with UV tags applied to the packaging and labels.

Ocado Retail says this solution provides brands with never-seen-before data on packaging recycling updated in real-time to their account dashboard and has recently undergone successful trials at Abergele’s Gofer Bulking Centre in North Wales.

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