Ocado trials first national deposit return scheme using financial rewards

Ocado has launched a world-first trial of a nationwide digital deposit return scheme using financial rewards.

Rolling out in partnership with technology company, Polytag, and recycling app Bower today, the system looks to improve the recycling rate of single-use plastic packaging in the UK.

The online-grocer has applied QR codes to its own-brand two and four-pint milk bottles  with consumers receiving a 20p reward for the first 20,000 that are scanned.

The incentive will appear in the Bower app digital wallet, with the app’s GPS technology able to confirm if a consumer claiming the reward is standing within close range of a registered home recycling bin.

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The printed QR codes also allow brands to see real-time data on the packaging lifecycle of products, including if, when and where packaging is recycled.

Invisible tags have also been added to packaging labels, which means data captured in the app when a consumer claims their reward will be mapped to the count of items identified in the material recycling facilities, demonstrating a full end-to-end DDRS solution.

Ocado senior packaging and sustainability manager, Laura Fernandez, said: “To be able to launch a workable digital deposit return scheme that actually pays consumers back for recycling is a game-changing move for recycling and the circular economy in the UK.

“We already know Ocado shoppers have an appetite for such a scheme as when we surveyed them last year, 80% said they were likely or very likely to scan a QR code for a deposit return.”

This comes as the long-awaited deposit return scheme (DRS) in Scotland has been officially delayed until at least October 2025, after industry leaders warned Scottish ministers against making further progress without support from Westminster.

The Scottish government originally had support from the UK, but claim that last-minute restrictions imposed by Westminster, such as not allowing the scheme to include glass, were unacceptable.



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