Polytag, Xact and Interket partner for DDRS pilot

Recycling technology company Polytag, one of the UK’s leading coding and marking specialists, Xact and label manufacturer Interket have teamed up to enable Ocado Retail to deliver a first-of-its-kind Digital Deposit Return Scheme (DDRS) pilot in the UK.

The trial will test the feasibility of a key component of a DDRS – the application of ‘unique-every-time’ QR codes to packaging. Xact and Interket will apply Polytag’s codes to Ocado’s fully recyclable two-pint and four-pint milk bottles, made up of at least 30 percent recycled material, over the next 12 weeks.

Until now, it has only been possible to print ‘unique-every-time’ QR codes using digital label printing, at significantly reduced speeds and far higher costs. This new process, developed by Xact and Polytag, means that brands and retailers can continue to use standard plate printing label techniques and simply digitize a 16mm x 16mm white space on the label using a proprietary connection to the Polytag technology.

Polytag’s ‘unique-every-time’ QR codes will be printed onto Interket’s Ecoket labels, which are manufactured from a minimum of 30 percent post-consumer recyclate (PCR).

English, Welsh and Northern Irish governments are expected to announce the response to the DRS consultation in the coming months. There is increasing pressure on the devolved administrations to consider a complementary digital solution – particularly following widespread criticism of the Scottish reverse vending machine-based DRS rollout.

Upon scanning the QR codes, consumers will also receive instructions and a clear call-to-action for shoppers, further simplifying the recycling process.

Polytag’s QR code and app-based mobile phone technology is also built to meet GS1 standards, following its approval by GS1 UK earlier this year. This means recyclable goods can be tracked and traced through the circular economy, providing stakeholders with never-before-seen packaging lifecycle information, and opportunities to collaborate easily through the use of global, interoperable data standards.

Chris Jolly, director at Xact, commented, “It’s fantastic to be involved in such a pioneering and creative project. Xact has over 40 years’ industry experience, and we are proud that our GS1 compliant coding, traceability and software solutions are helping to enable this ground-breaking and ethical process. We have partnered with Polytag on this project since its infancy in 2017 and remain excited for the future and the endless possibilities that could change the face of recycling.”

Commenting on the trial, Alice Rackley, CEO, Polytag, said: ‘This world-first trial has game-changing implications for recycling in this country. A successful trial, supported by ‘the world’s largest online-only supermarket Ocado Retail, will be a significant step towards the implementation of a DDRS in this country that will provide a much more convenient and environmentally friendly way for households to recover their deposits. Not only that, brands will be presented with radical new marketing tools and a wealth of data on how consumers are recycling their products.’

Laura Fernandez, senior packaging and sustainability manager at Ocado Retail, concluded: ‘As the world’s largest online supermarket, we champion the use of innovative technology as we strive to become the UK’s most sustainable grocery retailer. Polytag’s digital platform offers plenty of environmental and economic benefits for retailers and customers alike – it’s easy to use and when used at scale, could have a hugely positive impact on the nation’s deposit return scheme. We’re looking forward to seeing how our customers respond to the trial and how many would redeem their deposit at home.’

David Acott, operations director (UK), Interket, added, “We are delighted that one of our Ecoket range of materials is being used in this ground-breaking trial with exciting implications for the industry. It has been great to work with Polytag’s retrofitted technology. It feels like the start of something very special and opens up amazing new opportunities for the label market, brands and retailers.”

For further information call Xact on 0151 479 3020 or email info@xactpack.co.uk