Reward4Waste a Digital Deposit Return Scheme

March 11, 2021 | Written by Steve Clarke

Reward4Waste is an app-based recycling solution – a unique digital deposit return scheme, or digital DRS

Our latest blog shares more information on DRS (Deposit Return Schemes) and Digital DRS.

We feel passionately about the right DRS scheme for the UK, please do get in touch on if you want to find out more……

What is a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS)?

A deposit return scheme or DRS is a recycling system where people pay a small deposit for drinks containers at point of purchase, which is then refunded when the container is recycled. 

The aim of a Deposit Return Scheme is to reduce the amount of littering and boost recycling rates. By adding a value to something currently treated as ‘throwaway’, drinks bottles and cans (particularly plastic bottles) are viewed as a valuable resource and not just disposable objects that ends up as rubbish.

DRS is scheduled to be rolled out in the UK in 2023 although there is talk of this moving back, and we are currently waiting for the second government consultation which will include specific details, including the material and drinks to be included in scope. In Scotland the plan is to introduce DRS earlier, although again, recent news is that this date is being reviewed.

Organisations across the UK and Ireland are working hard to identify a DRS solution that works for all involved – the manufactures, the waste industry, local government, brand owners and most importantly – the consumers – people using the scheme on a day to day basis. 

Why is a DRS necessary?

The UK recycled only 45% of its household waste in 2018, meaning that a staggering 14.5 million tonnes of waste had to be either put in landfill, incinerated or exported abroad

Less than a third of all plastic in the UK is recycled. The remaining ends up in landfill or as litter, on the streets or in the ocean. 

A good deal of this waste is generated by single-use drink containers.

What is a conventional DRS model

Using a conventional DRS model, the consumer returns their empty drinks containers to a central deposit point, typically using Reverse Vending Machines or manual collection points such as more manual, retailer driven, Over The Counter methods.

Digital DRS

Reward4Waste is a Digital DRS, bringing return functionality to your phone.

Reward4Waste operates across all infrastructure, working with and enhancing a conventional DRS model or as a stand-alone system, bringing simplicity and convenience by allowing users to recycle at home, on the go, over the counter or using a smart bin or RVM.

Conventional DRS vs. Digital DRS

Do we have to make a choice between Conventional DRS and Digital DRS?


Reward4Waste can work as a standalone Digital DRS, or alongside a more conventional DRS model, bringing a hybrid solution with more flexibility and benefits to all. 

We’ve spoken to several retailers who, for a multitude of reasons, do not want an RVM in their stores. For them, Reward4Waste brings the perfect balance, bringing a cost effective model with consumer convenience, insights and rich data.

We’ve also spoken to many waste organisations who are concerned that a more conventional model removes valuable packaging from their existing waste streams, and to brands who want to step up and understand exactly what happens to their packaging once it leaves their factories or stores, and are keen to see real time data and insights around their consumers recycling behaviour.

So, how does Reward4Waste work? 

Reward4Waste video

Reward4Waste is an app that rewards and incentivises people for their recycling, tracking items through the circular economy. 

Look behind the simple to use app and you will find intelligent technology – blockchain and AI working together to bring a depth of data and insight on recycling and the circular economy never seen before.

Front end simplicity

Back end intelligence

Successful proof of concept

The first public trial of the Reward4Waste digital DRS took place between September 30th 2020 and January 31st 2021 in Whitehead, NI. 

The whole Whitehead population (2,000 HH) was invited to take part through a marketing campaign, those interested had to download the app from the app store, purchase products as they normally would from SPAR Whitehead, and recycle using the Reward4Waste app. Live data and insights were captured.

Participating items included plastic drinks bottles (PET), drinks cans, glass and HDPE milk containers. No levy was placed on participating items, reward points were given at each recycle, that could be redeemed for SPAR vouchers or donated to charity. 

The trial was in collaboration with Bryson Recycling and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, with proud support from Britvic Ireland, PepsiCo and Encirc.

This trial was supported by the local Spar supermarket. More than 5,000 items were recycled and half of the Reward Points were donated, equating to over £2000. 

Queens University Belfast are delivering an independent analysis of the trial with support from WRAP NI. As well as learning from those who took part in the trial, we will be paying particular attention to those who didn’t take part to understand the reasons behind that.

We believe in doing things right in order to learn to optimise our offering.

Get in touch

If you are interested in hearing more, please get in touch on to set up a meeting or have a chat with the team.

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