Seeing an impressive 94% return rate

The IWMA (Irish Waste Management Association) in conjunction with Panda and Reward4Waste, conducted a trial to prove the concept of a Digital Deposit Return Scheme (Digital DRS) using participants from Panda’s household waste collection in Dublin. The trial took place in July / August 2021 for 4 weeks.

This was a world-first pilot, testing citizen engagement and return rates for digital deposit and return technology.

The key differences with this trial in comparison to others is customers paid a deposit on the items purchased and redeemed the deposit when they placed the containers in their recycling bin at home. The trial also tracked the containers from the point of purchase, consumer, collector, and arrival at a sorting facility.

The goal of the trial was to prove that when using Digital DRS, the percentage return of packaging in the system is comparable to that achieved by the ‘return to retail’ conventional deposit return schemes (DRS) that uses a combination of reverse vending machines (RVM) and manual take-back.

The trial demonstrated a 94% return rate with 700 containers delivered to customers and 655 deposited in recycling bins using the Reward4Waste App.

How does the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) work?

  • Deposit Return Schemes are government led, with the aim to reduce litter by increasing recycling.
  • They work by adding a deposit on the price of drinks sold in plastic and glass bottles and cans, which the shopper pays at point of purchase and gets back once they’ve returned that container for recycling
  • Traditional models ask citizens to return their drinks containers back to store to get their refund, using a Reverse Vending Machine

How does Reward4Waste Digital DRS work?

  • Return points / recycling bins are given a unique code, such as a QR Code, 2D matrix code, or similar
  • Drinks containers also have a unique code such as a QR code, 2D matrix code, or similar
  • Deposits are paid on the drinks containers at point of purchase (it’s included in the price of the drink)
  • Deposits are refunded at point of recycle, with the deposit placed immediately in the users wallet within the app
  • Users simply scan the return point (whether that be a home kerbside box, a smart on-the-go bin or an RVM), scan their drinks container and the recycle is registered

Why Digital DRS?

  • We believe Deposit Return Schemes don’t need to be a chore for citizens
  • Research shows people don’t want to take their drinks bottles back to store to get their refund – this is due to many reasons and includes inconvenience such as lack of time, more online shopping and lack of mobility
  • Reward4Waste makes recycling easy – and independent research backs this up, with over 90% of respondents saying Reward4Waste was easy/very easy to use in our first validation trial in Whitehead, Northern Ireland with Bryson Recycling and MEA Borough Council, with proud support from Britvic Ireland, PepsiCo and Encirc, which took place in 2020/2021. To find out more about our trial in Whitehead click here

Read the full article below…

For more information on Reward4Waste or for an interview with the team, do please get in touch…

“The most damaging phrase in the language is
‘it’s always been done that way'”
Grace Hopper

Rear Admiral Grace Hopper (1906 – 1992)
Pioneer of computer programming

The other day I was chatting to friends, one teased the other that the Amazon delivery driver had called at their house to check they were ok because they hadn’t ordered anything online that week. Overhearing the joke made me realise that we really have pivoted from a world of busy offices, shops and streets to a world that is decentralised and digital. 

This theme of democratisation and decentralisation applies to retail, work and recycling, just as much as it does to banking, commerce, and government. During the lockdown we have had to transition to ‘at-home’ living; work-from-home, order-from-home, entertain-at-home, deliver-to-home and so on. 

I see the statistics almost every day, retail sales are down whilst online orders have gone through the roof, with research showing that 91% of e-commerce CMOs believe their brand’s revenue will grow in the next 12 months.

What we have seen is a true digital revolution of society in just over a year, moving from physical to digital in the blink of an eye! Digital is reconstructing our society from physical to digital and turbo-charging the whole experience of consumer engagement.  

The fact is that you can do nearly everything on a smartphone today. In my last blog I gave the example of banking and how it moved from Branch to ATM to Smartphone. The same can also be said of retail, travel and even medical.

In the world of recycling, Cryptocycle has been leading the way in Digital Deposit Schemes and was recently referred to by The Grocer magazine as the pioneer of Digital DRS (Deposit Return Schemes) something of which we are rightly proud of. Back in 2018 when we first floated the idea and concept of digital tracking waste and using a blockchain the response was that the traditional way is the best and ‘it’s always been done this way’.  Four years on and the term Digital DRS is now fully planted in the lexicon, we now even have a cross platform industry working group that includes the likes of Alupro, Biffa, British Glass, British Plastics Federation, British Retail Consortium, Danone Waters, Diageo, Ocado, and RECOUP to name a few, all exploring the use of digital for a UK DRS in order to reduce costs and carbon footprint and increase consumer engagement. 

“The most damaging phrase in the language is ‘it’s always been done that way'” –  Grace Hopper

Nothing can stifle innovation or opportunity any faster than a culture that discourages looking for new ways of doing things.

One of my absolute hero’s is Grace Hopper or to give her full title Rear Admiral Grace Hopper. Grace was not only one of the pioneers in the development of the electronic computer, she is (probably) the only mathematician to have a warship named after her – one that I was lucky enough to attend a reception on and had the pleasure of briefly meeting her.

Rear Admiral Hopper was famous for many things in the I.T World. She was a brilliant mathematician and computer scientist and also a gifted teacher, communicator and optimist. A true visionary. Hopper celebrated the potential of computers. “I think we consistently underestimate what we can do with computers if we really try,” she once said. In an interview on “60 Minutes,” host Morely Safer asked if the computer revolution was over. Hopper replied, “No, we’re only at the beginning…We’ve got the Model-T.”

Until the end of her life, Rear Admiral Grace Hopper looked forward with confidence to new technologies and their problem-solving capabilities. 

Digital DRS – time to change the narrative

With new concepts and change comes resistance and misinformation – at a recent industry webinar on Deposit Return Schemes we heard one of the speakers say that Digital DRS would increase carbon footprint, required more infrastructure, was expensive and not inclusive. Nothing could be further than the truth – Digital DRS delivers the exact opposite of this.

However, we recognise that for some, new ways of doing things can come too soon and too fast – it’s often easier to stay within the comfort of the known than look outside current ways of working and explore new innovations.

We recognise these challenges and work to share our knowledge and learn from others so that we can fully understand the resistance to bring a collaborative approach for further exploration and success. 

Reward4Waste – pioneers in Digital DRS

The aim of Reward4Waste is to significantly increase recycling and facilitate long-term behavioural change. Whether it be drinks containers or food packaging, textiles or tyres, single use or re-use –  any uniquely coded item can be ‘captured’.

At the front end, this intelligence is bought together in a simple to use consumer-facing app. When it comes to digital DRS, citizens download the app, scan the unique code on their drinks container/s, scan the deposit return point, and get rewarded for recycling.

At the back end, Reward4Waste brings innovative digital intelligence. The unique coding allows for items to be traced throughout their life-cycle, bringing rich data, transparency and accountability.

So much more than ‘just an app’

The Reward4Waste app is just the interface into a world covering A.I Artificial Intelligence with a Neural Network, an integration layer that allows for various formats, an interface layer that provides Interfaces for the likes of RVM’s, smart Bins, dumb bins and all flavours in-between, a reporting layer with various dashboards and reports all underpinned by a security module with strict adherence to GDPR.  Far from being “just an app” Reward4Waste is a full eco system for managing the return of deposits, provenance, and waste management.

What’s next?

It’s an exciting time for CryptoCycle and with that sees our team grow, with Board Advisors joining us from Said Business School, University of Oxford and GS1, and the business expanding into Australia… 

No more opaque provenance. No more confused recyclers. No more contaminated collections. No more fuzzy numbers.

We believe in a new way of doing things to reduce waste – a more transparent way, that helps bring confidence and clarity to the recycling process and engages consumers in circularity and sustainability.

Thank you for reading,


CryptoCycle team
CryptoCycle Team August 2021

The only constant in life is change

Tony McGurk at the UK’s first PassivHaus Plus workspace – home of CryptoCycle

In my 40 years in IT, I have seen many technologies come and go but the one thing that remained constant is change. I read that it was the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, who coined the phrase “the only constant in life is change” in around 500 B.C. No matter how cliché this saying may seem, I’ve realised throughout my career, this is reality!

Being in technology, I have witnessed change move at a record pace. Looking back at when I was a young boy, I was obviously destined to go into IT at an early age. Unbeknownst to me, my walk to my local swimming pool took me past a set of single story buildings that turned out to be the first home of GCHQ and apparently housed two Colossus computers

When I finally began working I was taught to program by a lovely lady called Anne who had previously been at Lyons in Greenford, the home of the LEO (Lyons electronic office I) the world’s first commercial computer! IT was therefore written in my destiny.

Throughout my career I have worked on Mainframes, Minicomputers, Distributed Systems, been around for the birth of the Email, the Internet, the Cloud and in the last decade, the rise of everything from Mobile to Blockchain to AI. I have seen entire industries emerge and watched traditional businesses re-imagine themselves and the ones that didn’t,  withered and died.

I am constantly being told “the old ways are better” but life experience tells me that this is not so. I often use the example of banking, an industry that is not known as ‘bleeding edge’. Back in the 1970’s banks closed at 3pm on a Friday afternoon until 9am on Monday, so if you had not taken any money out you were in for a quiet weekend. If I had been told in 1970 that in 2021 I would have an electronic device that would tell me how much money is in my account, let me use my watch to pay for items as cash, and that I could make telephone and video calls with these devices I would have probably thought you were watching far too much Tomorrow’s World! For those born after 2003 Tomorrow’s World was the gadget show of its time, and there is a brilliant clip from 1979 that talks about ‘mobile phones’ which I urge you to watch!

Today, we are seeing more people than ever relying on connected tech to help them manage almost every aspect of daily life, with the last 12 months seeing remarkable growth when it comes to digital usage – research has highlighted that habits are unlikely to change in a post COVID world and that the last 12 months have brought about a decade’s worth of behavioural change, particularly in the world of digital.

As connectivity and computer processing power continue to advance, new opportunities are opening up in every corner of the economy. From automated supply chains to new digital payment methods to big data analysis, new technology is fundamentally changing the way we interact with the world and how we do business at every level.

One of the largest shifts occurring in manufacturing is the digitalisation of supply chains. Before, producers would manually keep track of materials and components moving in and out of their factory. Today, new software allows an automated system to keep track of and automatically manage orders, while simultaneously ensuring quality and efficiency by staying hooked into every stage of production.

This kind of syntonised system, that once would have only been seen in the most cutting-edge facilities, is fast becoming standard, and is likely to become a required part of some larger retailers’ quality assurance or sustainability standards driven by ecologically aware consumers who demand to know the provenance or product impact in order to make better purchasing decisions.

As these new supply chain models become commonplace, businesses will need to be able to replicate and meet these standards if they wish to remain competitive. Advanced digital technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain are transforming industries by offering a synchronised and secure record of transactions and are starting to play an important role in helping to bring transparency and accountability to supply chains, bringing about a true circular economy. 

In retail and hospitality, we have seen the recent launch of  ‘connected stores’ where inventory is automatically tracked via mobile apps or hooked up tills, security alerts are logged through RFID tags (Radio Frequency Identification) and unexpected sales peaks or lulls are flagged. Going even further, all of this data can then feed into predicative algorithms that, as they learn over time, can inform business decisions on future promotions, orders or even the best opening times.

We are now entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) and through digital transformations we have the potential to create new and exciting opportunities for businesses.

The advancement in technology includes a huge jump in cloud computing, the realisation of artificial intelligence and machine learning, and the introduction of digital currencies and smart devices. The UK is in a prime position to capitalise and be a global leader in this charge.


For the last 3 years I have been wrapped up in the world of waste. A chance conversation gave the Eureka moment in which CryptoCycle was ‘born’.  Working in the waste industry has been an eye opener as it is an industry not easily open to embracing change unless forced upon it. 

In the world of waste our Digital Deposit Return Scheme (or Digital DRS), Reward4Waste, harnesses the power of Industry 4.0 to facilitate the return and reuse of containers using unique coding and smart technology.

We use green Blockchain and A.I. to prevent fraud, manage provenance, bring insights and model data.

The traditional way of running a Deposit Return System is to force consumers to take back their waste to central locations and process them through Reverse Vending Machines and whilst this has been around in Scandinavian countries for the last 30 years, it is now “so last century” and does not appear to us to be an eco friendly choice – with waste being driven cross country to counting centres as a way of reducing fraud. New intermediaries have emerged; home service and home delivery come to mind as good examples.

By harnessing technology, we have the ability to change the way people think about waste and incentivise consumers to do the right thing at home.

We live in a world so full of emerging technology that not a week goes past when I am not reading a paper with some new technology and thinking how I could apply this to our various projects.

Over the next few weeks, I will give you some insight behind Reward4Waste, our technology and vision for the future. 

Thank you for reading,


Tony McGurk talks to MRW

We were delighted to be asked to feature in Materials Recycling World by Andrea Lockerbie.

Tony chats to Andrea about the benefits of a Digital DRS and how Reward4Waste is best set to tackle a Digital DRS, working alongside existing waste infrastructure.

In this interview, Tony explains how Reward4Waste

  • Changes consumer behaviour through rewarding people for good recycling behaviour
  • Tracks and traces provenance of individual packaging through the circular economy
  • Can be used across all materials, plastic, glass, tin and textiles
  • Our proven trial in Whitehead NI shows Reward4Waste is inclusive of all demographics
  • Was created to make a positive difference to the waste crisis

Read the full article below…

For more information on Reward4Waste or for an interview with the team, do please get in touch…

Due to such a positive response to our Reward4Waste trial in Whitehead N.I., we are pleased to announce that the Reward4Waste trial has been extended until the end of January 2021!

That means that if you live in Whitehead, you can get rewarded for your recycling until January 31st, and you can donate or redeem your collected points until February 14th.

Reward4Waste – Trial Mechanics

The below information highlights the trial mechanics in Whitehead, Northern Ireland, run in collaboration with Bryson Recycling and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and proud support from Britvic NI, PepsiCo and Encirc.

NB: Some of the trial mechanics would be enhanced and optimised at full roll out or larger trial, such as the use of blockchain technology and coding at point of manufacture. Please talk to us to find out more…

2000 Households in Whitehead were asked to take part in the Reward4Waste trial, which ran for 4 months, from 30th September 2020 through to January 31st 2021

Selected items of single-use packaging including plastic drinks bottles, plastic milk bottles, soft drinks cans and wine bottles have a uniquely coded sticker placed on them by staff at Whitehead SPAR before they are put on the shelves for sale.

Every household was sent an education pack, inviting them to take part and including stickers with unique ID codes to place on their household recycling boxes (glass / other)

Those that want to take part, simply download and use the Reward4Waste app, they are verified by email and postcode.

To gain Reward Points via the app, users scan the bin sticker and then scan the code on their purchased (and consumed) packaging. Once recycled the app rewards them through SPAR vouchers or allows them to donate their Reward Points to one of four local charities.

Users can recycle at home using their existing recycling boxes or on-the-go, when they are out and about, by using recycling bins. Due to the unique code, users cannot recycle the same product twice, thus eliminating fraud.

Residents are rewarded 10 or 20 Reward Points every time they recycle using the Reward4Waste app, with 100 points being worth £1.

The app also educates users on good recycling behaviour, reducing confusion when it comes to which items can be recycled.

Reward4Waste works with existing waste infrastructure, this means that during normal kerbside collections, Bryson Recycling scans the tagged recycling boxes and the items are recycled as normal.

The trial was promoted in Whitehead through a door-knocking campaign, leaflet drops and a marketing campaign which featured local residents.

The trial app gives data on who has recycled what item, when and where.

Visit our website to view the full suite of Reward4Waste benefits

For more information on Reward4Waste do please get in touch…

This is the future for all returnable packaging

The consumer journey

Front end simplicity – back end intelligence. No more opaque provenance. No more confused citizens.

The journey may differ by project, but all share a common goal, to make it easy for people to return items for reuse or recycling. Reducing waste and keep valuable items in the circular economy for longer.


1. Get your phone
2. Scan the code
3. Be engaged
4. Return item
5. Get deposit / rewards

Digital Intelligence

We’ve created a platform that you can depend on. Using unique coding, green blockchain and AI to prevent fraud, bring transparency and manage provenance.

Digital <strong>Intelligence</strong>

The Blog

We are seeing more people than ever relying on connected tech to help them manage almost every aspect of daily life, with the last 12 months seeing remarkable growth when it comes to digital usage – the last 12 months have brought about a decade’s worth of behavioural change

The <strong>Blog</strong>

Rich data

The Reward4Waste app makes recycling easy – incentivising and rewarding people for good recycling behaviour. The app captures any uniquely coded item and registers its recycle through the uniquely coded bin or return point. 

Rich <strong>data</strong>

Making recycling easy

The Reward4Waste app makes recycling easy – incentivising and rewarding people for good recycling behaviour. The app captures any uniquely coded item and registers its recycle through the uniquely coded bin or return point. 

Making recycling <strong>easy</strong>

The Team

Reward4Waste is created by a team with expertise in technology and brands, our team is growing to reflect the need for a trusted platform that enables circularity through unique coding which inspires people to do the right thing.

The <strong>Team</strong>



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

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

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 👉
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). We also use RFID technology for track and trace benefits.

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 GS1 partners.

Contact us to improve
your circularity

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 and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Contact us today to find out more