The Fourth Industrial Revolution – Part II

August 11, 2021 | Written by Tony McGurk

“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

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