Team name / Company name: Crumpled Crumble
Team leader: Jakub Losenicky
Challenge: no. 2: Bottle deposit scheme
Problem: A beverage bottle or can produced in CZ almost never makes into a new bottle or can. The reasons are that (a) 31% of PET bottles and 74% of cans are lost, and (b) the material gets contaminated in the current yellow/grey-bin system and transformation to food-grade material is too expensive. Also, research shows Czechs firmly stick to the idea of crumpling bottles, i.e. the uncrumpled-only system widely used in Europe is not suitable for Czech market.
Solution: Our redesigned RVM accepts crumpled PET bottles and cans but also undamaged glass bottles: a 3-in-1 solution. The guided insertion is elderly and disabled users friendly. At the entrance, a camera scans and confirms the EAN code printed on the lid of the bottles. The EAN on the cans and glass bottles are scanned by two cameras inside the cylinder, after an air pressing solution has correctly positioned the packaging. If approved, the object is moved to a destruction area (to prevent 2nd return).
Impact: Our solution enables the introduction of a deposit scheme for crumpled plastic bottles and cans in CZ (and beyond), which has the potential to keep additional ~1.5bn PET bottles (lift from <10% to 90%+) and ~800m cans a year in the food-grade material loop, hence yearly save hundreds of millions tons of virgin material in beverage production in CZ. It also ensures there is enough recycled materials available to beverage producers in CZ at reasonable prices to comply with upcoming regulation.
Feasibility: The EU regulation requires the lid to be attached to the bottle by 2024, i.e. it allows us to use the EAN printed on the lid for bottle identification. Printing the EAN on the lid of bottles and bottoms of cans wouldn't be a disruption for the producers as they already print promotional codes and similar onto them. The adaptation of the RVM for crumpled bottles and cans would result in additional investment in HW of up to €1.5k per RVM and overall SW development and integration cost (€200-400k)
What you built: The project idea for the bottle deposit scheme, the rendering of the new RVM system and the efficiency improvement of the automated collection process. The team’s leading strategy was breaking down the problem and analyzing it from any possible angle with a design thinking approach in order to find a doable solution in compliance with all the requirements. The team was assembled from scratch.
What you had before: Our background knowledge about recycling, circular economy and deposit schemes as well as our technical skills (e.g., CAD, video making, ppt), but most importantly lots of curiosity and creativity.
What comes next: The next step for this concept would be to build a prototype to test it in real operations in order to spot possible adjustments and applicable improvements based on the user experience. Once tested and improved, promote the adoption of the solution in the CZ market and potentially all over the EU and the world.