The retail industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by social responsibility, supply chain efficiency, data analytics, and growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence and augmented reality. In the last three years alone, there have been over 156,000 patents filed and granted in the retail industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Environmental sustainability in retail: smart recycling kiosks. Buy the report here.
According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 115,000 patents to analyze innovation intensity for the retail industry, there are 50+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.
Smart recycling kiosk is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability
Smart recycling kiosks refer to bins used for smart waste management such as sorting, compressing, controlling fill level, and processing data using the latest technologies such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, computer vision, robotics, and near-field communication. These kiosks also make use of sensors to collect and sustainably dispose waste.
GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 100+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established retail companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of smart recycling kiosks.
Key players in smart recycling kiosks – a disruptive innovation in the retail industry
‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.
‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.
Patent volumes related to smart recycling kiosks
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Outerwall, Walmart, Itron, and Toyota Motor are among the leading patent filers in smart recycling kiosks. In December 2022, Walmart announced the launch of its recycling hub program to introduce drop-off points for recycling plastic-based wastes. The smart bins are monitored by recycling company TerraCycle to retrieve and transport waste to material recovery facilities to produce recycled raw materials that can be used for manufacturing other products.
In terms of application diversity, Walmart is the leading company, followed by Circularise and Toyota Motor.
Smart recycling kiosks can help reduce environmental footprint of waste generated by retail consumption and provide convenience of automatic waste management to retailers and customers alike. This service also encourages shoppers and retailers to prioritize recycling, thus enabling sustainable practices. Additionally, smart recycling kiosks can provide insights into recycling habits, improve the process efficiency, and reduce the risk of ecological damage from waste products that often can end up in landfills.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the retail industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) in Retail and Apparel.