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World’s first digital deposit return scheme trial in Wales hailed a success

18 Apr 2024 4 minute read
The Brecon DDRS in action

The trial of the world’s first ever digital deposit return scheme (DDRS) in Wales has been hailed a success.

Deposit return schemes (DRS) are used across the world as a way of encouraging more people to recycle drinks containers like bottles and cans.

The trial conducted in Brecon, however used technology that digitally scans the drinks containers, meaning deposits can even be reclaimed from the comfort of people’s homes.

It was also reward-based, with residents claiming 10p when returning eligible containers.

Usually, consumers are charged a deposit on drinks container which then must be taken back to a retailer or to a reverse vending machine to reclaim the deposit.

Householders and visitors to Brecon took part in the DDRS Scan|Recycle|Reward trail, and the recently published results show high levels of engagement with 18,794 rewards being claimed, more than four for every household.


Those involved with the trial in Brecon, led by DDRS Alliance with support from Welsh Government, Powys County Council, WRAP’s Collaborative Change Programme and local retailers, say the high level of cooperation with the scheme shows that people in Wales are open to using a digital deposit return scheme in the future.

Overall, 58% of all returned containers came through the household weekly recycling collections and the the trial showed a range of return options was preferred over any particular route

During the trial 97.6% of all containers returned at home were captured in the recycling stream and there was no significant fraud or misuse of the system.

Despite being an early trial, it also proved popular, with 56% of participants surveyed said they would recommend the scheme in the future

Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change, Huw Irranca-Davies said, “I’d like to thank the people of Brecon for taking part in the Digital Deposit Return Scheme trial – their willingness to get involved will help develop our plans for the DRS across Wales.

“This trial will support our ongoing work into DDRS and help build on our already world class recycling rates. Our aim is to move to a more circular economy where resources are reused and recycled rather than being wasted.”


The trial enabled eligible containers to be returned, with participants claiming their reward for each one, through four different return methods tailored to accommodate non-smartphone users as well as those happy to use the technology:

Kerbside: Utilised existing weekly kerbside recycling service, crediting rewards to an online account (smartphone required).

Automated Return Point (ARP): Similar to traditional Reverse Vending Machines (but much simpler), rewards were credited to either online accounts or printed cash vouchers (smartphone optional).

Community Bins: Outdoor, on-the-go option crediting rewards to an online account (smartphone required).

Over the Counter Return (OTC): Rewards redeemed in-store as cash (smartphone not required).

Results indicated kerbside return was the most popular and convenient method (chosen for 58% of returns), with 97.6% capture compliance observed.

The analysis showcased high material quality across return routes, with PET plastic bottles comprising 63% of returns, followed by cans (29%), cartons (7%), and glass (less than 1%).

Matt Perry, Powys County Council’s Chief Officer said: “The residents, visitors and retailers of Brecon thoroughly embraced their involvement in this innovative trial, and it was encouraging to witness everyone’s enthusiasm and willingness to give the digital technology a go.

“The results show for themselves how a digital version of the traditional return deposit schemes could easily be incorporated into the already established weekly kerbside collections services offered by most local authorities making life easier for citizens to return containers whilst also keeping our carbon footprint to a minimum.”

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