Plastic bottle deposit scheme in UK proving hit with shoppers

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 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.”


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