Consumers may soon be able to collect rewards at smart recycling points and kerbside collections for recycling plastic bottles and other reusable packaging fitted with NFC labels that uniquely identify each item.
The NFC-enabled digital identification technology will work alongside conventional deposit return and recycling schemes with the aim of encouraging more consumers to recycle plastic packaging.
The technology is being developed by UK-based flexible electronics provider PragmatIC in an initiative known as SPRITE (sustainable plastics recycling innovation by tagging electronically) and supported by the UK government’s Sustainable Innovation Fund.
“Deposit return schemes are already well proven to increase recycling rates, with leading systems recovering over 90% of the containers which have a deposit on them. But these are built around returning bottles back to grocery stores and require well-developed, and often rigid, state or nationwide processes to be in place,” the company says.
“Under SPRITE, PragmatIC will deliver a system that… uses ultra-low-cost NFC to uniquely identify fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) packaging so that consumers can collect rewards anywhere using a network of smart recycling points and their existing kerbside recycling collections.
“The project will also demonstrate the use of NFC to enhance refillable packaging models, where it can be used to encourage re-use and also provide the merchant with actionable data.”