Cambridge Consultants innovation set to solve sustainability challenges for consumer brands
Product design and development firm Cambridge Consultants has developed a smarter recycling concept which tackles the challenge of improving the efficacy of recycling and incentivising consumers to recycle, whilst addressing the end-of-life problem faced by consumer brands.
Recycling of packaging for consumer goods globally is a real challenge, for example, in the UK it currently runs at just 40-45%. Seven million coffee cups are used every day in the UK and the vast majority are not recycled – lined up they would stretch from London to Edinburgh. Consumers are keen to be green but are confused by what and how to recycle.
The smarter recycling system designed by Cambridge Consultants now provides the technology to enable businesses to improve their brand image, engage with their customers and make their businesses more sustainable.
The technology within the system is designed to identify the type of waste the consumer wants to dispose of using image recognition. The system combines machine vision with machine learning and can be trained to recognise new items over time. It can also detect the difference between a recyclable cup and a compostable cup, potentially challenging to the untrained eye. It then indicates which section of the waste disposal unit the item should be placed in.
Through a connected phone app the customer can be identified and rewarded once the item is correctly deposited. This reward could be points to spend, or even a donation to charity.
For consumer brands or food outlets sponsoring a smarter recycling point, or having one in store, encourages customer loyalty and repeat purchases through a reward scheme. It acts as a marketing tool, to show that the brand is proactively leading the way to a sustainable future, and it provides additional consumer insights such as when and where products are consumed. This end-of-life touch point not only extends a brand’s customer engagement, but helps to reduce the loss of potentially recyclable materials to landfill.
Implementing a smarter recycling system helps make a difference to consumers’ behaviour, and influence their decisions about recycling. In the long term, providing clear guidance on which materials to recycle will reduce levels of contaminated waste and will educate the consumer in types of recyclable materials and good recycling practice.
“Consumer brands are coming under increasing pressure from the government, lobby groups and consumers like you and me, to take responsibility for the end-of-life of their products." said Sajith Wimalaratne, food and beverage commercial manager at Cambridge Consultants. "They are looking to make eco-friendly choices, looking for ways to operate sustainably and profitably whilst improving customer engagement. To date, the focus has mainly been on developing new products and materials that are more recyclable or compostable, but there still remain challenges collecting and sorting recyclates. The smarter recycling system gives a brand a real reason to be in contact with the consumer while showing a commitment to make a positive impact.”
Cambridge Consultants develops breakthrough products, creates and licenses intellectual property, and provides business consultancy in technology-critical issues for clients worldwide. For more than 50 years, the company has been helping its clients turn business opportunities into commercial successes, whether they are launching first-to-market products, entering new markets or expanding existing markets through the introduction of new technologies. With a team of 750 staff, including engineers, scientists, mathematicians and designers, in offices in Cambridge (UK), Boston (USA) and Singapore, Cambridge Consultants offers solutions across a diverse range of industries including medical technology, industrial and consumer products, digital health, oil and gas, and wireless communications.
Cambridge Consultants is part of Altran, a global leader in engineering and R&D services which offers its clients a new way to innovate. Altran works alongside its clients on every link in the value chain of their project, from conception to industrialisation. In 2016, the Altran group generated revenues of €2.120bn. With a headcount of more than 30,000 employees, Altran is present in more than 20 countries. For more information, visit www.Altran.com.
- smart recycling
- waste management