Waste management and pollution

The grant funding is aimed at digitising UK waste tracking to prevent organised crime

Environmental consultancy Anthesis and waste analytics company Topolytics secure grant funding to help digitise tracking of household and commercial waste

Efforts to tackle waste crime and prevent the illegal shipment of UK waste overseas have received a boost this week, with the government announcing it is to channel up to £1m in grant funding to two companies developing smart waste-tracking technologies.

Environmental consultancy Anthesis and waste analytics company Topolytics will both receive a share of the government’s £20m GovTech Catalyst fund, which supports the development of innovative new technologies, the government announced yesterday.

The two firms have been selected to build prototypes for the UK’s first comprehensive digital waste tracking system in a bid to replace the existing “outdated and largely paper-based” system, which is still widely used to keep track of household and commercial waste, Defra explained.

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

Digital record keeping is seen as key to tackling waste crime, which can result in waste materials being illegally dumped at home or abroad and is estimated to cost the UK economy around £600m each year.

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

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“Waste crime causes economic, environmental and social harm in every community it blights,” said Environment Minister Rebecca Pow. “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.”

Both companies will now aim to prove the feasibility of using their technology to record and track individual movements of waste through the economy, each creating a UK-wide digitised system that includes all international waste payments, the government said.

The prototypes, which will enable environmental regulators to inspect waste data, are expected to be field tested and ready for expert review by the government within the next 12 months.

 

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