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
Independent research undertaken on our re-universe pilot in Whitehead Northern Ireland

 

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 are Digital DRS pioneers, having run two World First pilots in 2020 and 2021. Our pioneering solution uses serialisation to capture in-scope drinks containers (of any size or material) so citizens can recycle in their home recycling bins, on-the-go, using a smart bin or an RVM.

re-universe is better for the environment, better for the economy, better for business and brings convenience to citizens.

How it works

Using re-universe patent pending technology, unique identifying codes are placed on each 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 to record and registers their recycle, refunding them through our app wallet. Transactions are recorded immutably on our low energy blockchain and our data platform brings rich insights and behavioural learnings for brand owners.

GS1

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.

With all new technology and systems, trust is a major factor. We work with GS1 to deliver global standards and compliance.

 

Rich data and insights

With secure end-to-end item traceability and transparency, re-universe provides digital intelligence to all the initiatives we undertake.

re-universe secure, collect, manage and model rich data and insights, with easy access to our real-time data platform.

 

 

94% return rate!

In 2021 we worked with the Irish Waste Management Association (IWMA) to deliver the Worlds First Digital DRS pilot in Dublin.

This pilot remains the only Digital DRS pilot undertaken in the world using real money (deposit and return) and saw an impressive 94% return rate.

Citizen journey

Front end simplicity – back end intelligence.  re-universe brings ultimate flexibility and convenience for citizens.

1. Download app
2. Scan the recycling bin
3. Scan the drinks container
4. Recycle
5. Deposit refund

World First Pilot

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

Consumer

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

re-universe uses existing waste infrastructure, delivering the most convenient options for returning packaging.

Consumers simply download the free re-universe 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 re-universe 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

re-universe 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.

re-universe 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. re-universe receives and validates data from the WMO.

re-universe 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.

Producer

re-universe 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 re-universe.

re-universe 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 re-universe, 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

re-universe 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.

re-universe works hand in hand with brand owners sustainability and marketing strategies.

Memberships

Collaborations

FAQs

We are known as pioneers in digital returns, having run 2 world-first Digital DRS projects in 2020/2021 and in 2022 we collaborated with Danone on an evian project at Wimbledon, reaching over 500,00 visitors. Our cup reuse project can be found at Blenheim Palace and is due to roll out this summer 2023.

Please get in touch and we can chat through how re-universe can work in your organisation.

1. Transforming consumer behaviour around reuse and recycling – the app incentivises and rewards consumers for good behaviour, whilst having the ability to bring transparency and traceability to the supply chain

2. Bringing incremental economic value through the recycled and re-used items – a true circular economy

3. Immutable, secure and auditable – tracking packaging end to end with smarter solutions

4. Capturing data and insights over time to understand consumer behaviour

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

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!

If you would like to talk to us about a potential collaboration please get in touch at hello@re-universe.com

We are not currently raising funds through external funding rounds.

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

If you are interested in potentially investing in us then please contact us by emailing hello@re-universe.com

With billions of single use coffee cups ending up UK in landfill every year, it’s encouraging to see the rise in returnable and reusable cup schemes.

There really is no excuse for single use – but for mass engagement and take-up reuse has to be easy and frictionless.

So what’s the answer?

We believe it is re-universe. Our pioneering digital returns platform drives behavioural change and brings rich data and insights.

Tried and tested at Blenheim Palace in collaboration with Circular&Co. and rolling out across the summer, over 95% of users have said the platform is easy/very easy to use.

If you are looking for a return-for-reuse cup scheme that offers the below benefits (and more!) then get in touch…

😁 Consumer benefits
👍 No need to download an app
👍 No need to register bank details before use
👍 Return simply through tech-enabled returns
👍 Get deposit back into nominated bank account with minimal / no bank charges – quickly, easily, securely
👍 Donate to charity or have a floating deposit that can be used again and again

😁 Brand benefits
👍 Behavioural change insights to drive returns
👍 Validation of returns to reduce fraud
👍 Rich data and insights
👍 Cup-to-cup traceability
👍 Measurable scheme
👍 Multi-lingual and multi-brand
👍 Future-proofed for scaleability

Want to find out more?
Drop us an email 👉 hello@re-universe.com
We’d love to hear from you.

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 system where deposits for beverage containers will be returned through an app that gives an instant reward or loyalty card style collection of points dependent on how the consumer wishes to be rewarded for recycling. 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 and look forward to running more Digital DRS projects in the future.

We are really excited to be working with Blenheim Palace to eradicate single use, starting with cups, using our pioneering digital returnable cup scheme this summer, in collaboration with Circular&Co.

We couldn’t be prouder!

“We are rolling out a digital return-for-reuse cup scheme, eradicating single-use cups across Blenheim Palace. This important initiative eradicates single-use cups across Blenheim and reflects our commitment to becoming carbon neutral on scopes 1-3 of the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) protocol by 2027.

Visitors to Blenheim will be offered the choice of a ceramic or returnable cup when they purchase a hot drink. They will pay a deposit which they will get back when they return the cup for reuse.

Using pioneering digital technology from re-universe, there is no need to download an app or register before use. This was important to us because we want our visitors to be able to buy a coffee quickly and easily – without adding friction to their visit. When the cup is returned visitors are offered multiple options, including the ability to get their refund back digitally, donate to charity or other green initiatives.

We’ve been working with re-universe and Circular&Co. on this groundbreaking project for many months, which included running a pilot and learning and optimising in readiness for full rollout this summer.

We look forward to sharing lessons learnt and best practices to help other like-minded organisations jump on board and eradicate single use.”

David Green – Head of Innovation

re-universe technology is the cornerstone of many recycling and reuse projects that you may already be involved in! Please look at our website for more information.

Global smartphone ownership grows daily. According to recent research, 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.

Having an app based solution makes re-universe easy and convenient to use, however, for those without a smart phone, we have a home scan option.

re-universe uses GS1 global standards 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 are GS1 partners.

To find out more
about Digital DRS

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