Over 300,000 bottles recycled in Iceland reverse vending trial

UK retailer Iceland claims that over 300,000 plastic bottles have been recycled through reverse vending machines located at its stores since it launched a reverse vending trial last year.

Iceland became the first UK supermarket to install reverse vending machines in its stores in May 2018, which rewarded consumers for recycling plastic bottles by giving them a voucher worth £0.10 for every deposit of a bottle purchased at the shops.

The machines were present at five UK sites, and figures released by the company today claim that 311,500 plastic bottles have been recycled in the machines to date, and in November alone a daily average of 2,583 bottles were recycled across the five sites.

Iceland launched the six-month trial scheme following speculation that the UK government was set to introduce a bottle and can deposit return scheme, which was proposed by the UK’s environment secretary Michael Gove in March 2018, in order to reduce plastic waste levels in the country.

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.”

Iceland received praise for introducing the scheme from several environmental charities including Greenpeace, and Will McCallum, a spokesperson for the NGO added: “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.”

Fellow UK retailer Tesco introduced a similar reverse vending machine trial in September 2018, as the company claimed it was committed to eliminating single-use plastic wherever it could whilst making recycling simpler for its customers.

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