Five companies have been awarded up to £80,000 each to develop new digital solutions to tackle the challenge of tracking waste from its source through its treatment and final disposal.
The awards have been made in the latest competition under the GovTech Catalyst programme, which is dispersing £20 million through Innovate UK to encourage tech firms to respond to challenges in public services.
The choices of projects reflect the priorities in the Government’s recently published Resources and Waste Strategy, which emphasises the need to clamp down on illegal movements of waste through compulsory electronic trackig.
This provides the thrust of the project led by Anthesis, working with the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in testing the Vastum waste tracking system. This is aimed at recording all waste movements in the UK and bringing the data together into one system.
Anthesis is planning a feasibility assessment of the use of blockchain technology to record relevant transactions.
Cleantech start-up Dsposal is leading the KnoWaste project to connect all waste producers to licensed waste services to simplify disposal. It will involve the use of an app for the management of waste and the design of an open data standard for waste for the population of a central database. The database will connect the separate systems currently in use to provide regulators with oversight and industry with the information it requires.
The company is working with Open Data Manchester and the University of Bradford on the project.
Third is the System for Waste Enhancement, Evaluation and Tracking (SWEET) project, led by International Synergies in a collaboration with Birmingham City Council, Recycled UK and Alutrade. It is aimed at supporting the reuse of one organisation’s waste by another to divert it from landfill and reduce carbon emissions.
The project involves adapting the company’s Synergie 4.0 platform to record and track individual movements of waste through the economy, validate collectors and receivers against registered lists for all sites, and capture the movement of waste into and out of the UK. It will also explore the development of an API to enable the sharing of data and financial models for sustainability of the system.
Electronic company PragmatIC will work on extending the capabilities of its FlexIC integrated circuits, which are thinner than human hair and can be embedded into any surface with applications such as radio frequency identification and near field communication.
It has a project to assign unique IDs to products through inlays in their labels. Data could be attributed to the UIDs and entered into a database to support monitoring efforts, and to help retailers and consumers check the authenticity and provenance of items.
Finally, data analytics business Topolytics has won support for mapping and analysing the generation, movement and fate of waste materials. It is working with Ordnance Survey to build maps of the waste movements system across four areas of the UK.
The financial awards will cover three-month feasibility projects, following which up to two projects may be selected to receive up to £500,000 each to develop and field test a prototype.
Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: “We want to move towards a more circular economy, where waste is valued as a resource and reused. We are also committed to cracking down on waste criminals who exploit the system.”
Image by edwardhblake, CC BY 2.0 through flickr