November 3, 2023 | Blog

DRS Explained: Revolutionising Recycling in Retail

recycling bottle

A Deposit Return Scheme, or DRS, is set to be introduced in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2025. The Vista Technology Support team explain what DRS is, how it will affect retailers and recycling practices, and the implications it may have for your IT systems.

What is a DRS?

A Deposit Return System or a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) entails customers making a small monetary deposit during the purchase of a product. This deposit is subsequently reimbursed when the packaging or product is returned to a designated collection point. By providing a financial incentive for consumers to bring back empty containers, DRS promotes recycling and reuse. Its effectiveness is evident in the more than 40 regions worldwide where it has been implemented successfully, especially with beverage containers and bottles. Moreover, the call to establish DRS as the standard practice in the beverage industry, focusing on reusability through refill systems, while also extending its application to sectors such as transportation, shipping, and various packaging forms, is becoming increasingly compelling.

How DRS is changing recycling

DRS has been successful in driving up recycling rates, reducing litter, and promoting a circular economy. It incentivises individuals to take an active role in responsible waste management, contributing to environmental sustainability. DRS are introducing and adopting various new technologies to optimise recycling. Some popular recycling technologies include:

Reverse Vending Machines (RVMs): RVMs automate container returns by utilising advanced sensor technology to identify and sort containers. They provide instant refunds to consumers and can even offer digital rewards or donations. These machines streamline the return process and increase consumer engagement.

Advanced Sorting Technologies: Recycling facilities are adopting cutting-edge sorting technologies like optical sorters, NIR sensors, and AI-powered cameras. These technologies accurately identify and sort different container types, enhancing the efficiency and precision of material separation.

Smart Labelling and Digital Platforms: Smart labels and barcodes on containers help automate sorting by conveying essential information about materials and deposit values. Mobile apps and digital platforms empower consumers to track their recycling activity, locate collection points, and receive notifications, improving convenience and engagement.

These and the many more emerging recycling technologies are reshaping DRS programs, optimising recycling processes, and encouraging greater participation in sustainable waste management.

An opportunity

A Deposit Return Scheme is set to be introduced in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2025. The DRS is an opportunity for retailers to consider their recycling policies and reorganise accordingly, ensuring you have clear policies and the technologies to support your management of the scheme.

Help from the professionals

At Vista Technology Support, we will be able to help you deal with the IT demands of the DRS and ensure you are ready. Whether you’re bringing in a reverse vending machine or need systems to record and manage deposits, we are here to help you with reliable technology support and IT support for business.

Read our blog article about what retailers are doing to address the issues of recycling and learn how to you can prepare for DRS. For more information on the introduction of DRS in the UK check out the official UK Government website and the British Soft Drinks Association page.