Edinburgh-based data analytics business, Topolytics, has been awarded a £500,000 contract to build the UK’s first digital waste tracking system.
The system will track and analyse waste transactions across the UK and enable environmental regulators in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to generate an up-to-date view of waste movements. Long-term, the system could help drive improvements to the UK’s waste management systems and support efforts to counter waste crime.
The contract will be administered by the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) under the UK GovTech Catalyst programme.
This builds on a feasibility study undertaken earlier this year which saw the Edinburgh business collaborate with the Ordnance Survey to explore how the waste tracking system could work.
The second phase of the project will see Topolytics once again team up with the Ordnance Survey, as well as new partners Google Cloud and SAP, to develop a working version of the data-driven tracking system. This will be based around the company’s WasteMap analytics platform.
Commenting on the contract award, Topolytics founder and CEO Dr Michael Groves said: “This is a truly ground-breaking project and one that we are proud to be working on. It will transform waste regulation and the industry in the UK and has significant international potential.
“It further validates our use of machine learning, mapping, sensor systems and cutting-edge software to enable the waste industry to maximise the utility of materials and enable the circular economy.”
All inert and hazardous waste from households, local authorities, businesses and the construction sector will be tracked by the system. Data will be drawn from a number of sources, Topolytics confirmed, including invoicing records, bin weighing systems, vehicle telematics and smart labelling systems.
Moving forward, a key collaborator in the project will be PragmatIC, an industry-leading organisation focused on ultra-low-cost flexible electronics. PragmatIC will help track the movement of waste via item-level digital identities.
This announcement follows a successful period for the business, which was awarded first prize in the Google Cloud and SAP Circular Economy 2030 contest in May 2019.
Chosen from more than 250 applicants worldwide, Topolytics impressed both companies with its ambition to take big data into the global waste industry. Topolytics has since been working with both companies and will be combining their AI and machine learning technologies in WasteMap.