Digital DRS

Using technology to bring convenience to the deposit return scheme.

“The roll-out of a UK DRS should consider a digital DRS approach which allows consumers the convenience of recycling at home, which is the preferred option”

Queens University Belfast – School of Psychology 2021

The future of DRS is digital

The Deposit Return Scheme is a government led initiative to reduce littering, where people pay a deposit on drinks containers and receive that deposit back when they return the container for recycling.

re-universe (previously Reward4Waste) is a digital DRS. Our pioneering solution uses serialisation to capture in-scope drinks containers (of any size or material) so citizens can recycle at home, on-the-go, using a smart bin or RVM bringing the ultimate convenience.

re-universe (previously Reward4Waste) is better for the environment, better for the economy, better for business and ultimately better for consumers.

How does re-universe (previously Reward4Waste) work?

Using re-universe (previously Reward4Waste) patent pending technology, unique identifying codes are generated and placed on each ‘in scope’ drinks container and also on participating recycling points, which can include home kerbside bins.

People simply scan the recycling return point, scan their drinks container/s and this records and registers their recycle, refunding them immediately through the app wallet. Transactions are recorded immutably on the green blockchain and a data platform brings rich behavioural learnings.

Code agnostic

We provide a code agnostic solution. re-universe (previously Reward4Waste) can generate unique codes but we can also work with other code providers, to offer full flexibility and ease of adoption.

Serialisation is without doubt the future of a true circular economy, allowing for secure end-to-end traceability and transparency of waste for full accountability. Helping brand owners achieve their Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and Plastic Packaging Tax

Rich data and insights

With secure end-to-end traceability and transparency, re-universe (previously Reward4Waste) brings digital intelligence to all the initiatives we undertake.

Securing collecting, managing and modelling rich data and insights to help bring accountability that supports measurable and informed decisions – all provided on a real-time data platform.



The consumer journey

Front end simplicity – back end intelligence.  re-universe (previously Reward4Waste) is a Digital DRS that brings the ultimate flexibility and convenience for citizens.

1. Download app and register
2. Scan the recycling bin
3. Scan the drinks container
4. Recycle
5. Get deposit or rewards

World First Pilot
proof of concept

Between 2020/2021 we ran the Worlds First Digital Return and Reward pilot in Whitehead NI in collaboration with Bryson Recycling and MEA Borough Council, with support from Britvic Ireland, PepsiCo, Encirc and SPAR Whitehead.

Queens University Belfast independently assessed the trial with high community acceptance and engagement.

Revolutionise Recycling

Follow our journey to see how it works

Click and Scroll on the stages below


Recycling should be as easy as possible for the consumer - Reward4Waste puts the consumer at the heart of what we do, so they can recycle at home and on-the-go.

Reward4Waste uses existing waste infrastructure, delivering the most convenient options for returning packaging.

Consumers simply download the free Reward4Waste app on their phones and play their part to revolutionise recycling. Available on the Apple App Store or Google Play.

When purchasing a drink that is in-scope of the DRS, say, in a plastic drink bottle, the consumer will pay a deposit in addition to the cost of the drink.

The consumer receives their deposit back each time they recycle simply by scanning their recycling bin, then scanning the unique code on each item to be recycled before dropping them in the bin. Where recyclable materials have separate bins, consumers carry out the process for each bin/material.

When each item is recycled, consumers can monetise and ‘cash out’, collect Reward Points (that can be used like a loyalty scheme) or donate to charity.

Many consumers are confused about what can and can’t be recycled, and Reward4Waste can give guidance on its recyclability when scanned in. The app can also link with local council waste policies, again easing any confusion.

For a small minority of households who don’t own smart phones, we offer other solutions to take part.

Deposit Point

Reward4Waste can use existing deposit infrastructure, enabling convenient options for returning packaging at home and ‘on-the-go’.

When recycling at a public recycling point, the consumer scans the unique ID code on the recycling Deposit Point (which can be any bin, receptacle or reverse vending machine at home, at work or on-the-go, providing it has been allocated a unique identifying code) and the product’s unique ID code printed on the container, and then recycles.

The recycle is registered once these 2 scans have taken place, and the consumer is then credited with their deposit or rewarded with points (for rewards schemes or to donate to charity) via the app.

Reward4Waste uses blockchain technology and unique codes (serialisation) on every item which brings several advantages over existing systems:

  • It prevents any product from being recycled twice.
  • If a consumer scans an item to claim back their deposit but then throws it away as litter it can be picked up and rescanned which will identify who claimed the deposit without recycling. Identifying ‘bad actors’ in this way allows us to send advisory messages and remove them from the system either temporarily or permanently.
  • Fraud is reduced to close to zero.
  • Producers can trace product from being packaged through to it being recycled. This gives traceability for provenance and rich consumer data.
  • Data can be kept totally confidentially for each stakeholder.

Waste Management Organisation

The WMO collects and recycles, contributing to a sustainable future built around a circular economy. Reward4Waste receives and validates data from the WMO.

Reward4Waste works hand-in-hand with existing infrastructure such as static bins or kerbside collections – minimising effort for consumers and maximising recycling rates without disadvantaging existing processes.


Reward4Waste sends proprietary unique identifying codes to producers, who then label their items with this code, to track through their journey to recycling and eventual reuse.

Producers send production information back to Reward4Waste.

Reward4Waste records each transaction on an auditable and immutable blockchain, which can be programmed to know where the item was produced, what it contained and the recyclable material it comprises. It then tracks the item through the circular economy.

Each producer has free access to their own data ‘node’ but will not be able to see data any other producer or system user.

Producers with containers not in-scope of DRS (for example fabric conditioner) can also use Reward4Waste, by encouraging consumers to recycle by offering Reward Points. These Reward Points can then be claimed against future purchases, used within loyalty schemes or donated to charity.

Brand Owners

Reward4Waste increases recycling and rewards users - acting as a loyalty programme where appropriate and bringing rich data and insights on recycling behaviour.

It records who recycled it and where, and if required, can continue to track its journey post return by the consumer. This insight into recycling and consumption behaviour can bring rich learnings to brand owners.

Reward4Waste works hand in hand with brand owners sustainability and marketing strategies.



Reuse and recycling schemes play a large part in helping reduce carbon, yet few offer citizen ease and engagement for widespread take-up. Current reuse schemes ask too much of citizens (such as inconvenient return and/or queuing for deposit) and often appeal to the already converted.

The re-universe digital platform enhances reuse and recycling initiatives, bringing citizen ease of use and convenience with transparency and traceability, leading to rich data and insights and measurement of impact.

Our 2 world-first Digital DRS projects in 2020/2021 secured our place as Digital DRS pioneers. In 2022 we collaborated with evian at The Championships 2022 at Wimbledon reaching over 500,00 visitors, and more recently with Sainsbury’s during Recycle Week.

We are also running a digital returnable cup system at Blenheim Palace in collaboration with Circular&Co. eradicating single use cups in the Walled Gardens and The Pantry.

1. Our technology incentivises and rewards users for good return or recycle behaviour. Our Digital DRS pilot in Dublin saw an impressive 94% return rate

2. Increasing reuse and recycling brings incremental economic value – a true circular economy

3. Immutable, secure and auditable – tracking packaging end to end within the supply chain

4. Capturing data and insights over time to understand consumer behaviour and help with your EPR targets

5. Depending on the scheme, re-universe can work within existing waste management and infrastucture – reducing costs and carbon footprint

6. re-universe offers a real chance to accelerate change and make a positive difference

7. re-universe brings consumer ease to reuse and recycling, with Queens University Belfast showing very strong community engagement during our Whitehead Digital DRS Pilot

8. You are in good company. We our proud to have run projects with Blenheim Palace, evian, Wimbledon, IWMA, Bryson Recycling, MEA Borough Council, and we have many more projects coming up in 2023!

9. Our experienced team have managed several major projects on time, within scope and within budget

10. Don’t just take it from us – this is what evian say about us…
“We were delighted to launch a new recycling reward scheme at The Championships, Wimbledon 2022 in partnership with re-universe, to encourage recycling of drinks containers at Wimbledon. It was exciting to see visitors using the web-app, scanning recycling points then their bottles or cans to return them and ensure that packaging could be kept in the loop. The team was also really agile and responsive, making this activation seamless and successful!” Pauline Gordon, Brand Manager Plain Water (evian & Volvic)

We our proud to have run projects with Blenheim Palace, evian, Wimbledon, IWMA, Bryson Recycling, MEA Borough Council, and we have many more projects coming up in 2023!

All of our live projects can be found on our website, we are working on a number of projects yet to appear so watch this space!

We are always interested in talking to potential investors, particularly those who can bring relevant knowledge and experience.

Please contact us using the form in the website.

There is a growing global awareness of the waste crisis; governments across the globe are under pressure to take action.

The UN Global Partnership on Marine Litter has an action plan put forward by the G7 and G20 and a resolution on marine litter and microplastics was adopted at the United Nations Environment Assembly.

The EU has set out its vision for Europe’s new plastics economy EU Member States will be obliged to reach a 90% collection rate for disposable plastic drink bottles by 2025. By 2030 all plastics packaging placed on the EU market will be recyclable or easily recycled. An EU target is in place for recycling 65% of municipal waste by 2030 and the EU has issued a directive requiring every soft drink producer to use at least 25% recycling by 2025.

Plans are in place to introduce a DRS scheme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland by 2023 with Scotland the first to implement within the UK.

Ambitious legislative targets are being put in place; many countries will struggle to meet targets and new processes and levers need to be developed to tackle the practicality of waste management and the inertia in behavioural change.

We believe radically improving reuse and recycling is the cornerstone to turning the tide. It is clear that collection, sorting and reprocessing need to improve, but in parallel having a circular system that engages and changes consumers behaviour is critical to the success of any solution.

Deposit return schemes (DRS) are becoming more and more common all around the world. When you purchase a drink in a plastic bottle (in some cases glass) you’ll be charged a small deposit at point of purchase. When you return the bottle for recycling, you will receive your deposit back.

How your deposit is returned to you is dependent on how the country runs their DRS. In some nations, you’ll need to return the bottle to a Reverse Vending Machine (RVM) at a superstore or other retail location. In other countries, the bottle will need to be returned to a designated recycling point (like a council run tip or waste management site). Regardless of the location, the deposit is always able to be claimed back.

The UK government has announced a DRS will be introduced in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2024, with Scotland looking to introduce a DRS earlier.

re-universe have developed a digital platform so that consumers can take part in the scheme using an app on their phone. This allows them to return items at home, on-the-go or back to store. We operate using a simple to use front end, with an intelligent back end, allowing deposits for beverage containers to be returned via our app, giving instant refunds, rewards or they can donate to charity. This is known as Digital DRS and we are known in the industry as the Digital DRS pioneers.

We have run 2 World-first projects in Northern Ireland and Dublin seeing strong citizen engagement and an impressive 94% return rate. We look forward to running more Digital DRS projects in the future.

We are really excited about the potential of re-universe and are currently working with key organisations across the UK and beyond on their reuse and recycling projects Please do contact at if you would like to chat to us about how we could help your organisation.

The digital returnable cup scheme is an easy to use scheme that eradicates single use cups.

Working in collaboration with Circular&Co. who are creators of the returnable cup, each cup is uniquely coded to engage users and track-and-trace every single cup.

The scheme instantly rewards people for returning their cups for reuse, and shares individual and community impact.

Real time data and insights to bring intelligence and impact to sustainability initiatives.

Flexibility: Deposit & return | return & reward | return & donate or hybrid.

Our recent project with Blenheim Palace does not require an app to be downloaded, users simply scan to open up the digital platform. More information can be found on our website.

Global smartphone ownership grows daily. According to recent research by statista, in the UK 95% of all households in the UK own a mobile phone, with 78% of those using a smart phone and this number is growing fast. Our recent pilot in Whitehead showed usage across all age ranges including those of 80 years and older, with research from Queens University Belfast sharing the app is very easy to use.

Having a smart phone based solution makes re-universe easy and convenient to use, however we can provide other options for those without access to a smart phone.

re-universe (previously Reward4Waste) uses unique codes, or serialisation, which are placed on each individual item (either on the physical product or a receipt).

Digitisation is without doubt the future of a true circular economy, allowing for traceability of waste, immutability, flexibility, rich insights and data – for cradle to grave accountability.

We are code agnostic – we can either create the unique codes for you, or work with your unique codes.

We believe that Blockchain technology has the potential to transform recycling behaviour. Blockchain provides a digital ledger that is a continuously growing distributed database and cryptographically secured. Blockchain offers immutability, security and is fraud proof. However, we believe in green blockchain - so that it has a low carbon footprint.
A reverse vending machine (RVM) uses technology to identify, collect and process used beverage containers for reuse or recycling. Using the example of a standard vending machine, you insert money and receive a drink or other item in return for your money. When using a reverse vending machine, you insert an empty drinks bottle and receive money in return for recycling. re-universe (previously Reward4Waste) works like a reverse vending machine from your phone, using the app to allow you to recycle your bottle in return for a reward. Due to the unique coding system you can only redeem the same container once (so there is no fraud).

To find out more
about Digital DRS

We can help you achieve your DRS, EPR & sustainability targets. If you are a business and want to find out more, fill out the form to the right and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.