23 October 2019 by Lucy Pegg

Duo chosen by Defra for waste tracking projects

Defra is awarding up to £1 million of funding to two companies developing projects to track waste and help counter illegal waste activity.

The prototypes will aim to tackle illegal waste activity in the UK

Sustainability consultancy firm Anthesis and waste analytics company Topolytics have been selected to build prototypes for the UK’s first comprehensive digital waste tracking system.

Defra say that illegal waste activity drains the UK economy of around £600 million every year – a review commissioned by the Home Office last year found that a lack of digital record keeping is exploited by organised criminals who mislabel waste to avoid landfill tax or illegally export it.

Anthesis and Topolytics have received the grants as part of the government’s £20 million GovTech Catalyst Waste Tracking Challenge, which is part of a wider GovTech Catalyst fund set up to help tech firms deliver innovative solutions to public sector challenges.

Environment minister Rebecca Pow said: “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.”

Prototypes

Anthesis and Topolytics were picked from a shortlist of five in the latest stage of the Cabinet Office’s GovTech Catalyst competition.

“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.”

Rebecca Pow, Environment Minister

They will both create UK-wide digitised systems that will include all international waste shipments, tracking waste prior to shipping through to final destination. Prototypes will be created in the next year, allowing environmental regulators to inspect data and field test the creations.

Topolyptics will work with Ordnance Survey, Google Cloud and SAP to build a working version of a data-driven tracking system for household, municipal, commercial, construction and hazardous waste. It will draw up maps of the waste movement system across four areas of the UK.

Anthesis’ system for tracking waste is called Vastum. It would digitise the current paper-based system of waste transfer notes, consignment notes and other documentation required by legislation.

Simone Aplin, technical director at Anthesis, said: “We are thrilled to further develop and test Vastum. We believe it will deliver economic and environmental benefits that are truly transformational.

“A successful system will significantly reduce the administrative burden for the sector and generate the data needed to tackle waste crime, inform policy and guide vital investment in the circular economy.”

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