19 Feb 2019

Government awards £400,000 to tech companies to track waste through the economy

Five companies working across the UK have been awarded up to £80,000 to develop innovative digital solutions to tackle the challenge of tracking waste from its source through its treatment and final disposal.

The UK generates more than 200 million tonnes of waste a year with individual waste transactions estimated at above 20 million. However, the subsequent transport and disposal of this waste can be complicated and at times fragmented.

In November 2017, the Cabinet Office announced a £20m Innovate UK fund to encourage tech firms to deliver innovative solutions to public sector challenges, like the improvement of waste tracking and action against waste crime.

Government wants to know more about how this waste is generated, handled, and disposed of in the UK. By helping UK regulators take action against waste crime, and spot opportunities for companies to join up their waste operations, this will help to maximise the value of waste as a resource, and minimise damage to the environment.

The successful projects include research into tracking waste through electronic chips and sensors, the use of blockchain, looking at common reporting platforms, and new data analytics.

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said:

We want to move towards a more circular economy, where waste is valued as a resource and reused. We are also committed to cracking down on waste criminals who exploit the system.

Congratulations to the winning projects. I look forward to seeing their innovative waste tracking solutions which will help us to meet these ambitions, and play their part in helping us achieve zero avoidable waste in the UK by 2050.

Minister for Implementation Oliver Dowden said:

The GovTech Catalyst is a great example of collaborative working between the Government and innovative start-ups.

The effective management of waste will help improve the environment and boost this emerging industry, clearly highlighting how our investment in smarter technologies is crucial to tackling public sector challenges.

At the end of a three month feasibility stage, up to two projects may then be selected and funded up to £500,000 each to develop and field test a prototype in a second phase of GovTech Catalyst, expected to open later this year.

The £400,000 funding follows an independent review into serious and organised waste crime commissioned by Environment Secretary Michael Gove last year. The review found that the lack of digital record-keeping in the waste industry is frequently exploited by organised criminals who mislabel waste to avoid landfill tax or illegally export it.

Today’s announcement builds on government’s recently published Resources and Waste Strategy, which sets out government’s intention to clamp-down on illegal movements of waste at home and abroad including by introducing compulsory electronic tracking of waste.

About the winning projects

1. Anthesis: Defra Smart Waste Tracking Project

Anthesis is a global specialist sustainability services and solutions provider; founded on the belief that sustainable business practices are at the heart of long-term commercial success.

Their project will design and test the feasibility of an innovative waste tracking system called ‘Vastum’.

2. Dsposal

Dsposal is a clean-tech start-up working towards a world where all waste is treated as a resource.

They build easy-to-use tech to connect all waste producers to licensed waste services and make compliance simple.

3. International Synergies Limited

International Synergies Limited ISL specialise in resource efficiency methodology, tools and techniques.

The System for Waste Enhancement, Evaluation and Tracking (SWEET) project will demonstrate the feasibility of creating a digital solution that will simplify current data entry processes through big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI).

4. PragmatIC

PragmatIC is a world leader in ultra-low cost flexible electronics; enabling the potential for trillions of smart objects to engage with consumers and their environments.

Their unique technology platform creates flexible integrated circuits (FlexICs) that are thinner than a human hair and can be easily embedded into any surface.

5. Topolytics

Topolytics is a smart grid for the world’s waste. It is a data analytics business that is mapping the generation, movement and fate of commercial and industrial waste materials globally.

For further addition on the winning projects, click here.