Government invests in smart waste tracking

As part of Defra’s £20m GovTech Catalyst fund, the government is awarding £1m funding to two UK companies. Anthesis, a digital specialist, and Topolytics, which provides waste analytics, have been chosen to build prototypes for the UK’s first comprehensive digital waste tracking system. 

The prototypes will include all international waste shipments and it is hoped the new system will provide more effective tracking of waste, from shipment through to final destination.

Waste crimes cost the UK economy around £600m every year, with current systems for tracking waste labelled outdated.

An independent review led by Lizzie Noel and an advisory panel gave recommendations for a strategic approach to serious and organised waste crime. They found that the absence of digital record-keeping can be abused by criminals who mislabel waste to avoid landfill tax or illegally export it.

The Environment Bill recently introduced to Parliament included compulsory electronic tracking to target illegal movements of waste. It has also previously been part of the Defra publication Our waste, our resources: a strategy for England.

Anthesis plans to use QR codes on mobile devices to record the ID of waste consignments uploaded to its ‘Vastum’ blockchain system, in order to eliminate errors. Alternatively, Topolytics plans to use data from devices, including apps and sensors on waste containers or vehicles.

The prototypes being made by Anthesis and Topolytics could be available for testing within the next 12 months.


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