Shoppers have received the equivalent of more than £30,000 in total for recycling plastic bottles in the first supermarket trial using “reverse vending machines” installed to reduce littering. The machines, introduced last year by the Iceland chain at five UK sites, reward consumers with a voucher worth 10p for every deposit of a bottle purchased…
The machines, introduced last year by the Iceland chain at five UK sites, reward consumers with a voucher worth 10p for every deposit of a bottle purchased at the shops.
Iceland, a frozen food specialist, said figures published Wednesday suggested the trial had delivered “significant results” and strong consumer engagement, with 311,500 plastic bottles recycled so far. In November alone a daily average of 2,583 bottles were recycled across the five sites, with an average of £250 in coupons refunded each day.
Iceland was the first UK supermarket to install such machines in support of the government’s proposed deposit return scheme in England – which expects retailers to be responsible for properly recycling the containers – and in line with its own efforts to reduce the impact of single-use plastics on the environment.
Its trial involved a machine in each of four stores in Wolverhampton, Mold, Fulham and Musselburgh (covering England, Wales and Scotland) as well as at Iceland’s head office, in Deeside.
Richard Walker, Iceland’s managing director, said: “Iceland has continually led the way in the fight against the scourge of plastic since making our announcement to eliminate plastic from our own-label product packaging.
“The launch of reverse vending machine trials in our stores is one sign of this. We’ve gained hugely valuable insights into both consumer interest and the functionality of the schemes, and it’s clear from the results that consumers want to tackle the problem of plastic head on and would be in support of a nationwide scheme.”
At present just 43% of the 13bn plastic bottles sold each year in the UK are recycled, and 700,000 become litter each day. Pressure is growing on the government, retailers and consumers to increase rates of plastic bottle recycling and so reduce marine pollution.
In October the environment secretary, Michael Gove, said he was committed to “working with industry to see how we could introduce a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles”.
The UK’s largest supermarket, Tesco, is also carrying out a trial, as are Morrisons and the Co-op, but none have yet published their results.
Will McCallum, head of oceans at Greenpeace UK, said: “The success of Iceland’s reverse vending machine trial demonstrates that deposit return schemes to boost recycling and tackle plastic pollution are both popular with consumers and eminently doable. Michael Gove must deliver on his promise to introduce a deposit return scheme without delay, and ensure that it covers containers of all sizes and materials.”