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Powys County Council trials digital deposit return scheme for drinks containers

Recycling symbol
Image source: Warguta

Powys County Council is running a trial of a scheme using digital technology to support the recycling of drinks containers.

The trial of the digital deposit return scheme (DRS), around the town of Brecon, began in July and will close at the end of this month.

It involves registered participants using a mobile app to scan a QR code sticker on drink containers before placing them in domestic recycling bins or recycling machines, or handing them over in a shop. They receive a 10 pence cash reward in return which they can keep or donate to a food bank.

Each transaction is recorded and each QR code can only be applied once.

The scheme is being supported by the Digital DRS Alliance and is aimed at understanding how people engage with the technology and their preferences in returning drinks containers.

Bottles, cans and Tetra Paks

It is said to be the first time in the world that the technology has been tested across a whole town. It is being applied to PET plastic bottles, soft drinks in aluminium and steel cans, glass bottles with non-alcoholic drinks and Tetra Pak style cartons.

The Welsh Government said that around 1,200 households have registered to take part in the scheme.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “We’re committed to introducing a deposit return scheme in Wales and it’s important we explore the different ways a scheme could be delivered.

“Wales is the third best country in the world for recycling but we need to go further if we are to reach net zero and tackle littering. The learning from this trial will help us better understand recycling patterns, which is an important part of reaching that target.”

Leading the way

Duncan Midwood, of Circularity Solutions, the project lead and head of the consortium leading the pilot, said: “Wales is leading the way in supporting the development of digital DRS which promises to transform the way packaging is collected for recycling across the world.

“The learnings gained from the trial in Brecon will help industry and legislators understand how digital DRS could work within a UK DRS to increase levels of recycling further.”

Wales' overall recycling rate is currently around 65%, making it the nation with the third highest recycling rate in the world, and the Welsh Government has set the ambition for it to be a zero-waste nation by 2050.

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