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Defra to fund digital waste tracking projects

25 February 2019

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

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.

At the end of a three month feasibility stage, up to two projects will be selected and funded up to £500,000 each to develop and field test a prototype in a second phase of the GovTech Catalyst scheme.

The UK generates more than 200 million tonnes of waste a year with individual waste transactions estimated at above 20 million. 

However, the government has claimed that the subsequent transport and disposal of this waste "can be complicated and at times fragmented".

In a statement Defra said it “wants to know more about how this waste is generated, handled, and disposed of in the UK”, and said that the tracking of waste can help regulators with a number of issues.

Funding is part of the Innovate UK fund set up to encourage tech firms to develop solutions for public sector challenges including waste data tracking and waste crime.

It 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.

Minister for implementation Oliver Dowden said: "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."