Swede’s are among the best in the world at recycling cans and bottles. Last year, they returned over two billion deposit cans and PET bottles. The PantaPå app also allows you to return other deposit packaging. Launched in 2019, in only six months the app has reached more than 100,000 downloads. In October 2019, the app was also launched in the United States. In collaboration with RISE, PantaPå has implemented a number of projects to reduce littering and increase recycling of on-the-go packaging materials. They are now ready to develop the collaboration and begin real-world testing.
Sweden is a pioneer in terms of container deposits. As early as 1984 the country introduced deposits on aluminium cans. A decade later this was followed by a container-deposit system for PET bottles. Today, approximately 85% of all aluminium cans are returned for recycling.
New industry standard
PantaPå is the world’s first container-deposit app. Launched last summer, the app was downloaded 100,000 times in only six months and it is continuously attracting new stakeholders.
– “You don’t see too many cans or PET bottles littering nature or ending up in the ocean. This is because they have a monetary value. We want to establish a new industry standard in which all packaging can automatically be returned against a deposit, whether the packaging is plastic, aluminium, cardboard or glass, but it is only by placing a value on packaging that we can change behaviour,” says Suwar Mert, founder and CEO of PantaPå.
Returning packaging using the PantaPå app is easy. You simply visits the nearest recycling station (or register your own), scan the barcode on the packaging and place the product in the correct recycling bin. The deposit is then paid direct to your mobile phone, either as cash or coupons.
– “Increasing numbers of stakeholders are using 100% recycled plastic in their packaging. This is fine in itself but it does not mean that all of their packaging is eventually recycled. There is no guarantee that the circle will be closed. When a value is placed on the packaging, however, there is a greater chance that it will be recycled and become new packaging,” says Suwar Mert.
More companies want to demonstrate that they are taking responsibility and working with sustainability
Brand owners set the value
PantaPå currently works with major companies such as Procter and Gamble, Fazer and Unilever.
– “It is up to each brand owner to set the value for their packaging. Some of them even print the deposit on the packaging itself. Our latest collaboration is with Clas Ohlson, which has chosen to place a discount on it’s plastic bags that can redeemed against purchases. Another new partner is e-commerce giant SkinCity, which sells skincare products online. SkinCity has chosen to place a deposit value of five crowns on their packaging,” explains Suwar Mert.
Consumers can also return five items of packaging a week from suppliers that do not work with PantaPå, at a value of one krona per item.
A scalable app
The PantaPå app is scalable and was launched on its first market outside Sweden, the United States, in October 2019.
– “For many of our partners, it is important that the app is scalable and that the service can be launched on multiple markets. As consumers themselves can register new recycling stations, this makes things easy when we enter a new country,” says Suwar Mert.
PantaPå’s ambition is to create the first litter-free generation. The target group is broad, with a certain bias towards women. Although users peak in the 25-45 age range, there are many both younger and older who use the app to recycle.
Consumers want to recycle but demand simplicity
PantaPå approached RISE for help in developing its concept. Among other things, they participated in the Circular On-the-Go Packaging project, which aimed to develop new solutions to reduce littering and increase recycling and reuse of on-the-go packaging. The project included consumer surveys to ascertain how best to increase recycling and make it easier for consumers to recycle on-the-go packaging while our and about in the city.
– “The clearest message that came through in the surveys was that, while consumers are more than happy to recycle, it must be simple and recycling bins must be readily available in the places where people consume on-the-go food and beverages. It was also apparent that deposits offer a good incentive for collection. Container-deposit packaging is not left in the natural environment to the same extent as non-deposit packaging,” says RISE project manager Kristina Wickholm.
PantaPå and RISE want to see deposits introduced on coffee cups
RISE and PantaPå have made a joint application with Örnsköldsvik Municipality for permission to conduct real-world testing of deposits for on-the-go articles in Örnsköldsvik town centre during summer 2020.
– “Many of the products we see lying around in parks and flower beds are disposable coffee cups. We want to conduct testing on disposable cups in particular and will be offering everyone who sells on-the-go beverages in the town centre the chance to participate. Recycling stations will be placed around town and we will conduct a major information campaign regarding using the PantaPå app to get money back,” explains Kristina Wickholm.
The market is ready
There is considerable interest among consumers and brand owners in becoming better at recycling and an expanded deposit system may be the solution.
– “In my opinion, the reason that an app such as PantaPå wasn’t launched earlier is simply that the market wasn’t ready. Although the container-deposit system has been around in society for a long time, brand owners have not faced the same demands as they do today. More companies want to demonstrate that they are taking responsibility and working with sustainability. At the same time, consumers want to do the right thing and the PantaPå app makes that easy,” says Suwar Mert.