Ecosurety-funded trial of disruptive ‘tag & trace’ recycling technology launches

A trial financially supported by Ecosurety to test the viability of a technology which could create a high value plastic feedstock from consumer recycling waste has launched.

The 40-day trial kicking off in households across Wirral, Merseyside, will assess the viability of Polytag - a recycling technology platform that seeks to facilitate the move for brands to a more circular packaging waste economy.

Led by waste conversion specialists Econpro, Polytag is a multifaceted technology platform being developed so brands can ‘tag’ their packaging at the point of manufacture, then, with the help of consumers, ‘trace’ it, so it can be isolated from the existing recycling waste stream and reprocessed in batches of identical-grade and colour plastic.

How Polytag works

The Polytag technology uses a specially developed printing process to ‘tag’ each item of packaging with a unique PAC code at its point of manufacture. This tag will be stored on a Polytag database until it is paired up with the same code that has been ‘traced’ by the consumer.

The consumer tracing function will be facilitated through the use of a Polytag mobile phone app which enables consumers to scan the Polytag PAC codes themselves.

Polytag visual

Once the code has been scanned, the consumer will follow instructions delivered via the app on how to clean and prepare the packaging for recycling, before ensuring it is returned to Polytag – either via collection, or drop-off at a designated Polytag collection point. The packaging will then be taken to a Polytag MRF for reprocessing, producing high-grade Polytag pellets or granulate which can be returned directly to the producer for reuse in their packaging stream.

Consumer rewards

This extractive approach to the plastic recycling process seeks to create a high-grade plastic feedstock, at lower cost and with a lower environmental impact than the current recycling system is able to offer. Under current plans, Polytag-recycled plastic feedstock will be returned to brand packaging production plants to be reused, thus significantly improving the circularity of the packaging lifecycle of a product.

The Polytag platform will also enable brands to recognise the vital role that the consumer plays in the recycling process through a ‘Circular Rewards’ setting on the mobile phone app. The app will provide confirmation that packaging has been recycled, recognising increased demands for accountability and transparency from consumers in the packaging process.

A more circular recycling system

Supported financially by recycling compliance scheme Ecosurety, the Polytag technology trial will involve 60 households across Wirral, Merseyside from 28 October and will run for 40 days. The trial will enable Econpro to gather key insights from consumers on the usability of the Polytag technology platform and ensure it is developed in a way that maximises the potential for a more circular recycling system.

Phil Sutton, CEO of Econpro commented “Only 45% of all plastic packaging is recycled here in the UK, and yet production is expected to increase to over a million tones by 2030. Polytag seeks to tackle the pressing environmental issue caused by plastic and other packaging by helping to build a more circular recycling system that maximises the value of the materials being used."

"We are delighted that Ecosurety recognises the need for investment in innovative new recycling technologies through its financial support of this trial. We look forward to securing some valuable insights into the functionality of our technology and progressing to a position of market readiness in due course.”

Disruptive impact

Jon Brookes, Head of Partnerships at Ecosurety commented “The potential disruptive impact of Polytag on the current recycling system is significant. Not only will Polytag offer brands a unique opportunity to engage with their customers - a vital cog in the recycling system – it has the potential to add value to a packaging waste material whist improving the circularity of our recycling system."

"This resonates with Ecosurety’s commitment to improve the UK recycling sector through innovation, education, collaboration and investment. We are delighted to be supporting the Polytag trial and look forward to hearing the results in due course.”

Polytag has the potential to become a disruptive recycling technology that can isolate plastic and other valuable resources such as aluminium from the UK recycling system, ensuring that their material value is maximised. This will help create a traceable, closed-loop lifecycle for thousands of widely produced products which could benefit brand, consumer and environment.

To find out more about Polytag, please contact our team.

Ben Luger

Marketing projects specialist

Ben joined the team at the beginning of 2015 and helps drive marketing communications and projects for Ecosurety, including project managing the launch of the Ecosurety Exploration Fund and website content development.

Written by Ben Luger Published 28/10/2019 Topics Ecosurety
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