Ocado Retail gives 20p back to customers that recycle its milk bottles in world-first with Polytag

Polytag teamOct 13, 20237 min read

In a world-first initiative, Ocado Retail is enabling its customers to earn monetary rewards for recycling Ocado Own-Brand milk bottles [20p per bottle].

A first-of-its-kind initiative

From 14 July, Ocado customers will be able to scan a QR code on two and four-pint milk bottles to receive a reward for putting their packaging in a recycling bin, thanks to the pioneering initiative created in partnership with recycling technology company Polytag and recycling app Bower.

In total, more than 8 million bottles will feature Polytag’s unique-every-time QR codes on their labels. The first 20,000 codes scanned will see customers receive 20p in their digital wallet through the Bower app, which can be withdrawn to their bank account.

Subsequent barcodes that are scanned will be offered other perks and prizes – like cash, coupons and charity donations – via the Bower app, instead of the financial reward.

Customers can claim their reward by downloading the Bower app, setting up their account and adding their regular recycling bins and bank account. Once they have scanned the QR code on the milk bottle through the app and disposed of the packaging in their registered recycling bin, they can withdraw the money to their bank account.

Delivering an effective Deposit Return Scheme

Designed to replicate the deposit consumers will be able to redeem when a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) – covering England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – is introduced in 2025, this initiative will demonstrate the viability and convenience of a Digital Deposit Return Scheme (DDRS) in the UK.

Enabling consumers to receive a cash incentive for recycling using their smartphones – rather than returning the bottles to reverse vending machines – a DDRS makes use of existing kerbside recycling systems to deliver maximum convenience.

Laura Fernandez, Senior Packaging and Sustainability Manager at Ocado Retail Ltd, commented: “To be able to launch a workable digital deposit return scheme that actually pays our customers back for recycling, is a game-changing move for recycling and the circular economy in the UK. We already know that Ocado shoppers have an appetite for such a scheme as when we surveyed** them last year, 80% were likely or very likely to scan a QR code for a deposit return.”

Alice Rackley, CEO, Polytag, added:

“The UK Government has encouraged innovators to demonstrate that the technology for a Digital DRS exists. We’re confident the convenience of the Bower app, together with our unique QR code technology, will show there is a clear opportunity to deploy a digital scheme that will benefit retailers, consumers and the environment.”

Suwar Mert, CEO and Founder, Bower, added:

“Don’t ask consumers to change. Design a deposit return scheme that fits consumers’ everyday habits by leveraging the use of their mobile phones and regular recycling bins. And reward consumers for their good acts of recycling. That is how we can increase recycling. For the first time, we now have a solution and possibility to test a digital deposit return scheme. Over 500,000 users are already using the app and get rewarded not only for their bottles and cans but for all packaging with a barcode”.

The two and four-pint milk bottles, featuring Polytag’s unique-every-time QR codes, have recently reduced in price to £1.45 and £1.20 respectively. The new bottles will be delivered by Ocado Retail to households nationwide from 14 July. The Bower app can be downloaded from Google Play and Apple Store immediately.