The actual pilot was delayed due to Covid-19 restrictions, so we took the opportunity to further test the technology with some of our partners, in line with government guidance.
Testing RFID technologies with Allied Recycling
Allied Recycling is a waste collection company that operates in the Republic of Ireland. Their state-of-the-art technology allows them to recognise individual bins from their customers via Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID).
The objective of this test was to see if we could use those RFID readings as a proof of recycling, therefore releasing the deposit to the corresponding household in their app.
The participant households were given water bottles with unique identifiers in each one of them. The unique identifier is like a fingerprint for that bottle, that (unlike barcodes) makes it different from any other bottle. The codes are printed as data matrices.
Polytag code digitally printed on a water bottle. This code is different from any other code in this test.
Once the participant households had consumed each water bottle, they would scan it with the Polytag app and recycle it as usual.
A participant scanning a Polytag code with the App
The computerised panel of a collection truck showing the unique bin identifier, that has been read via RFID.
The test was a success, proving that RFID equipped bins could be an inexpensive solution to close the data loop of a Digital Deposit Return Scheme.
Internal testing with our partners
The Conwy pilot is run in partnership with the Welsh Government, Wrap, Ecosurety and Conwy County Borough Council.
We wanted them to see what was ‘under the bonnet’ of our technology. So, we sent them some of the labels that will be used on the Conwy pilot and they got scanning from the comfort of their homes and offices.
We also added a little UV light that would reveal the codes printed across the whole surface of the label. This will facilitate readings by computer vision both kerbside and at Material Recovery Facility.
Label under the UV light, showing the hidden codes (they’re the same as the one printed on the visible spectrum in black).
The trial was a success, showing our partners the potential of the Polytag system.
The excitement of some of our partners was real!
The 9 participants scanned a total of 47 bottles, earning them £9.40 during the two weeks of the test.
We’re now ready to start our pilot test in Conwy. On the week of the 7th of June, our recruiters will visit door to door with the residents, asking them if they want to participate using our app. We will also cater for those residents that want to participate but either don’t have a smartphone or don’t want to use it for the pilot.
The actual pilot will start on the 21st of June for four weeks, and we can’t wait to start reporting on the results.