Greasby Digital DRS Pilot

Polytag teamJan 18, 20207 min read

Ambition zero waste

In 2019, Polytag, in partnership with Ecosurety, delivered a successful Digital DRS pilot in Greasby, North-West England.

Delivering a Digital DRS in England

During this Digital Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) pilot, we engaged 50 households in Greasby – a large village on the Wirral Peninsula, Merseyside, England.

Each household received two Polytagged items – a bottle of Palmolive, with a code printed on the substrate, and an aluminium can of Lynx deodorant with the code on a sticker*.

Each item had a unique, random code that identified it individually, like a fingerprint. The participants were asked to scan these unique codes with Polytag’s app on their mobile device, once they had consumed the products.

*Note: Through our partnerships with printing providers, we have since found ways to laser etch our codes on aluminium cans at line speeds.

Demonstrating how a Digital DRS could be rolled-out

Over a six week period in Q4 2019, a Polytag team would collect the recyclables from the participant households, including the items with Polytag’s codes.

The materials were then processed and recycled at Polytag’s facility in Deeside. This included a second scan of the Polytagged items, marking them as recycled in our system.

The incentive for the households to participate was a donation to a local school.

What we were looking to achieve during the Digital DRS pilot

  • To test Polytag’s platform through a consumer-facing app in a home environment
  • Test the concept of a Digital DRS system
  • Collect qualitative and quantitative data on household recycling patterns and behaviours to assess the technology’s potential

91% engagement shows how a Digital Deposit Return Scheme can succeed The trial was a resounding success, with over 91% of the products scanned by participants being recycled by our team at Deeside.

The three main reasons that participants felt engaged with the pilot were:

  • The awareness of the plastic problem and the willingness to do something about it.
  • The excitement of the adoption of digital technology in recycling.
  • The donation of money to the local school.

Feedback from households

Why did households think the Digital Deposit Return Scheme pilot in Greasby was a success? We spoke to some of the families involved to find out

1. The McKellar Family

“After seeing the Blue Planet series, as a family we really started to consider what happens to our packaging after use. The Polytag app helped us to better understand how to recycle more efficiently and how we could all contribute to a healthier environment.”

2. The Naylor Family

“We have always enjoyed technology as a family, the Polytag app gave clear and simple instruction on how to recycle each product and having the ability to follow our recycling and reward local schools and community projects is fantastic – the opportunity to unlock and increase recycling rates is certainly a great move, as users of these products we hold that key!”

3. The Clements Family

“There’s always a misconception that the importance of recycling is a generational matter, using an app to better understand how to recycle was initially alien to us. However, it was easy and enjoyable. The collection was prompt and additional funds being made available to local schools for our participation is great.”

Further Digital DRS pilot schemes for Polytag

The trial proved the concept of a Digital Deposit Return scheme that doesn’t rely on the extensive deployment of Reverse Vending Machines.

Following the success of the Greasby Digital DRS pilot, Polytag was approached by the Welsh Government to run a Digital DRS pilot in Conwy, North Wales.