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Circular Wonderings is an exploration of the role of digital, software and technology in the Circular Economy. Exploration is the key word here. I write regularly, reflecting on my current thoughts and research. Expect typos, incomplete thoughts, varied rambling topics and (hopefully) a journey towards clearer understanding and insight. Subscribe here to join my journey.

Digital DRS?

Deposit Return Schemes (DRS) are when we pay a small deposit of 20p when buying a drink in a single-use container and then get the deposit back when returning the empty bottle or can [1].

Scotland will be the first part of the UK to introduce a DRS for drinks containers in 2022 [2]. The rest of the UK has recently finished a consultation about rolling out a similar scheme [3].

This is an example of circularity in action, although, as always, the devil is in the detail [4]. To be successful it needs to be implemented well.

I recently came across this interesting report [5].

"The Digital DRS Industry Working Group, a grouping of nine trade bodies and companies across the drinks containers value chain, have released a new report on the potential for a ‘digital’ deposit return scheme (DRS) to deliver Government’s stated objectives on deposit return at a ‘significantly lower cost to society’."

To me this seems a useful contribution to the discussions about how to implement DRS.

I wondered how they got a cost of £3,004M…

"A DDRS’s IT systems would be more complex ... and this is likely to carry additional costs. It would need to be capable of handling billions of unique container identification codes, millions of app users, and act in (near) real time in order for the system to avoid duplicate deposit returns on the same container and provide the consumer with a convenient delay-free experience."

While I am inspired by the engineering challenge this describes - I am also terrified of a public body turning this idea into another costly white elephant!