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Banking Tech Awards
4th December 2024
Royal Lancaster Hotel

Banking Tech Awards 2023 Finalist: Unbox the Universe

Unbox the Universe, has been selected as a finalist in the FinTech for Good category for their pioneering project, Unbox Urban Mining in the Banking Tech Awards 2023.

Unbox the Universe

Unbox Urban Mining is a groundbreaking initiative at the forefront of transforming waste management's value framework through innovative fintech incentives. It tackles critical areas such as litter collection, Deposit Return Schemes (DRS), and Extended Producer Responsibility systems, aiming to raise awareness about combatting the pervasive "throw-away culture." Through strategic collaborations with organizations like FostPlus, Indy Eleven, and Visit Britain, as well as a partnership with the Belgian government, Unbox is actively reshaping attitudes and behaviors towards waste management. Leveraging proprietary technology, Unbox meticulously tracks and optimizes supply chains, contributing to a more accurate Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) system.

About Unbox the Universe: Unbox Urban Mining

Unbox Urban Mining harnesses the power of fintech infrastructure to revolutionize the notion of value, and how that value is distributed across the individuals and organizations involved. In waste management terms, this includes litter, packaging materials, reusing items and the data behind an item's lifecycle. Unbox Urban Mining incentivizes behavioural change in waste and material management by providing a mechanism to distribute that value depending on stakeholders' actions.

Unbox Urban Mining is currently addressing the inefficiencies associated (data, education, contributions, value) in litter collection, digital deposit return and extended producer responsibility schemes. Educating the public about the perils of the "throw-away culture" prevalent in many societies.

In today's world, the concept of consumerism and disposability has become ingrained in our society, leading to significant waste and environmental challenges. The increasing volume of waste generated globally is a pressing concern, with predictions indicating 70% rise in worldwide municipal solid waste generation to 3.4 billion metric tons by 2050. [1]

This waste crisis has far-reaching implications, affecting the environment, wildlife, public health, and expediting the climate crisis. Unbox recognizes the urgency of this issue, as the escalating volume of waste poses a substantiated threat towards ecosystems (both natural, social, and economic).

Who is responsible for this? The government, the producer, the consumer, or goodwilled citizens? Currently, the burden (and result) of managing waste falls heavily on local communities and taxpayers, necessitating a change in the producer responsibility paradigm. For a societal change in waste management, there is a requirement for all the stakeholders to interact and to exchange the value created/ responsibility held between each other. Moreover, this responsibility is going to fiscally cost to producers. The UK government has just completed a consultation on extended producer responsibility which is going to make the law so that the full cost of dealing with the packaging waste generated from households is moved from local taxpayers and councils to the packaging producers. They estimate the costs for business right now if they do not make any changes will be GBP 1.7bn. They are excluding littered waste for the first two years of the scheme, but this is on course to be included. [2]


To address this pressing issue and combat the prevalent "throw-away culture," Unbox Urban Mining uses fintech to viably incentivize people to collaborate on waste management activities by rewarding their efforts. By leveraging fintech technology and infrastructure, Unbox ensures complete traceability and transparency of the impact users contribute to a cleaner environment and give the organizations the method to fund that micro impact, which comes together to create a shift in the macroeconomics and behaviour change. Each litter pickup or item recycled becomes a verifiable log of data, including the - what, where, when and how of the activity. The value this has traverses carbon reduction, landfill reduction, and insightful data and learnings to waste management planning. On the more cynical side; if the value even transcends into sustainable marketing budgets encouraging businesses to support and invest in behavioural change, then it still has a net positive effect.

Unbox Urban Mining has made considerable progress in their mission to change perceptions and behaviours towards waste management with financial nudging. Projects and impact have reached massive scale on litter collection. Focus on the most in need market sectors (EPR and Digital Deposit) are following closely with test project completed.

Unbox Urban Mining launched The Click [] in partnership with waste management organisation FostPlus [] in 2021. The mobile application incentivizes the pick-up and disposal of litter across Belgium (581 cities), by providing micro-nudging incentives in the form of Circular Ucoins to citizens. Collecting over 1.5 million pieces of litter to date this project has shown massive adoption with 90,000 active users. The data insights created gave great insight to the resulting impact, the core issue, and learnings for waste planning:


Unbox Litter (the Click front-end software) is now being replicated into new markets. In the USA we have pledged our software to Indy Eleven [] enabling them to reward fans for cleaning up the stadium and the community (the State of Indiana) they are integrated with. The application geotargets the stadium and the youth training facilities for maximum impact. During match days fans behaviours changed to a piece of litter being picked up a every 17 seconds! []

In the UK we are testing partnering with the tourism authority of Visit Britain. []

In the Middle East we are partnering with a supra-national NGO to put the application in the hands and at the service of thousands of war-torn refugees. Contributing to the issue of waste management in critical locations. While also distributing value to those most in need, again in the form of Ucoins, which allows the reward to be distributed into austere environments instantly and direct them towards the local economy.

Unbox is tasked by the Belgium Government to solve the challenges they face on Deposit Return Systems (DRS). We provided our platform for stage-one testing with KBC bank employees. Off that success we are now scaling up with a stage-two test, where we will start to drive the government led digital deposit industry standards. []

For Extended Producer Responsibility we have agreed our first 2 pilot tests, one in the USA on lithium batteries materials management and one in the UK on parenting goods. These use the exact same fintech infrastructure, by redistributing the value of behavioural change. []


To protect individuals' privacy, our wallet employs cryptographically secure self-sovereign identity management (MyUnbox -, ensuring that with full traceability of funds and transactions, individuals' privacy is not compromised. We have paid special attention to accessibility, ensuring that even users with limited financial or technological experience can navigate the platform.

Unbox Urban Mining is driven by web2 and web3 technologies and infrastructure. This ensures the necessary transparency and trustworthiness of the data collected and the rewards distributed. Each contribution is logged verifiably, creating a traceable chain of positive environmental impact. The rewards based off this value driven behaviour are automatically distributed to the wallets of the users, reducing the barrier to entry for stakeholders to get involved, these rewards are in the form of tokens with RuleSets (they are programmed on how you earn them and how you spend them).

For businesses Unbox Urban Mining offers a unique opportunity to access valuable data on their environmental impact, allowing them to make informed decisions and enhance their sustainability efforts. Most importantly the infrastructure behind Unbox Urban Mining makes this viable: the trust, data, speed, while remaining ‘plug-and-play'. Furthermore, supporting Unbox's initiative demonstrates a commitment to responsible corporate practices and fosters positive relationships with customers and communities.

Unbox Urban Mining's use of fintech infrastructure enables governments, businesses, and communities to have a direct grip on their environmental impact while accessing valuable data, fostering positive relationships with customers and communities.

Unbox is shaping a future where waste is no longer seen as disposable but as a valuable resource to be reclaimed for a cleaner and healthier planet. By scaling up their impact and fostering collaboration with all types of stakeholders, Unbox Urban Mining is driving a global shift towards sustainable practices and a lasting positive change for generations to come.



Our platform supports and incentivizes multiple recyclable / waste management schemes. Allowing individuals to take part in activation and awareness campaigns, deposit return schemes from fully open environments in cities to (semi)closed environments such at festivals and events. Users on our platform can receive Ucoin tokens, which can be programmed with a specific RuleSet dictating how they are earned and spent. However, these tokens only carry purchasing power within a closed-loop system, rather than storing value like traditional currency, thereby promoting financial inclusion and economic empowerment. 

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