Two firms win £1m to develop digital waste tracking tech

The project aims to help tackle waste crime in Britain as well as prevent illegal waste being shipped abroad

Two technology companies have won up to £1 million of government funding to develop prototypes for the UK’s first digital waste tracking system.

Digital specialists Anthesis and waste analytics company Topolytics will share the funding for the project that aims to help tackle waste crime in Britain as well as prevent illegal waste being shipped abroad.

Statistics from government reveal illegal waste activity costs the UK economy around £600 million every year and the current systems for tracking household and commercial waste are outdated and largely paper-based.

An independent review into serious and organised waste crime commissioned by the Home Office last year found the lack of digital record-keeping is exploited by criminals who mislabel waste to avoid landfill tax or illegally export it.

Anthesis plans to use QR codes on mobile devices to record the ID of consignments so transactions are faster and error free while Topolytics intends to use data from a range of devices, including apps and sensors, on waste containers or vehicles.

Both companies will create a UK-wide digitalised system that includes all international waste shipments, tracking waste prior to shipping through to final destination.

The prototypes will also enable environmental regulators to analyse and inspect data, be field tested and ready for expert review in beta version within 12 months.

The news follows the introduction of the Environment Bill to Parliament last week, which included the introduction of compulsory electronic tracking of waste to clamp down on illegal movements at home and abroad.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “Waste crime causes economic, environmental and social harm in every community it blights. That’s why our transformative Environmental Bill will be a driving force for change – improving the way we manage our waste by creating powers to introduce an electronic waste tracking system.

“Both companies put forward impressive proposals to help modernise the waste system and help level the playing field by ensuring all businesses are adopting legitimate waste management practices. This is great news for the environment but bad news for those determined to exploit the system.”

The funding is being awarded as part of the government’s £20 million GovTech Catalyst Fund which supports the development of innovative solutions.

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