Digital Deposit Return Schemes : Increasing recycling rates: Consumers prefer digital DRS

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How to increase recycling rates? An important questions many governments now contemplate. A recent research commissioned by UK company Reward4Waste, a “reuse and recycling platform” that works by uniquely coding (digitising) items placed in market and capturing them upon return through a uniquely coded return point, and conducted in July 2022 by research agency, OnePoll, amongst a representative sample of 2000 adults, suggests that nearly two thirds of people would prefer a digital deposit return scheme (DRS) using an app at home or on-the-go; either as a stand-alone facility or as part of a hybrid system.

Just 25 per cent would opt for a return-to-store system only, while 12 per cent either did not know or were unsure of what system they would prefer.

Exploring the full scope of a DRS, more than half wanted to see glass bottles included (currently glass is likely to be excluded in England and NI, but not in Scotland or Wales). Asked to select other items they would like to see included, 50 per cent cited drinks cartons; 47 per cent food containers; 41 per cent newspapers; 36 per scrap paper and 35 per cent toilet roll tubes.

People want to be rewarded

52 per cent of respondents claimed they would be more inclined to recycle if there was a reward for doing so.

Asked to consider how frequently they might use in-store reverse vending machines if such a system was introduced, a third of respondents believed they would make weekly deposits, while 16 per cent thought bi-weekly, and 15 per cent monthly.

Asked about their wider use of technology, 56 per cent agreed that technology could help with environmental issues such as recycling and 37 per cent believed that by 2050, apps to help with recycling would be mainstream.

“I hope Government ministers currently considering the different DRS options will note that a digital DRS, where people use a smartphone app to scan a unique code on their drinks containers and recycling bin to capture that return and redeem the deposit, is the clear first choice for consumers," says Tony McGurk, chairman, Reward4Waste. “A digital DRS can be easily extended and makes use of existing collection systems, such as home kerbside collections, so would actually cause least disruption to households and to local authority waste management systems.”