Iceland has become the first supermarket in the UK to install a reverse vending machine, where empty plastic bottles are fed in a machine in return for vouchers.
The frozen food giant is trialling the reverse vending machine in its Fulham, west London, store initially for six months.
Iceland’s reverse vending machine accepts any Iceland plastic beverage bottle and repays customers with a 10p voucher to be used in store for each bottle recycled.
Richard Walker, Iceland managing director, says: “We’re the first supermarket to take decisive action to bring the reverse vending machine into stores, following the announcement of the government’s support for a deposit return scheme in England.
Consumers in the UK go through an estimated 13 billion plastic drinks bottles a year, but more than three billion are incinerated, sent to landfill or left to pollute our streets, countryside and marine environment.
Iceland has pledged to eliminate plastic packaging from all of its own label products by the end of 2023.
Mr Walker adds: “There are 12 million tonnes of plastic entering our oceans every year, so we feel a responsibility both to tackle the issue of plastic packaging, as we are doing with our own label products, and to give our customers the power to make a difference themselves.”
Deposit return schemes operate successfully in countries such as Denmark, Sweden and Germany. A deposit return scheme sees consumers pay an upfront deposit when they buy a drink, ranging from 8p in Sweden to 22p in Germany, which is redeemed on return of the empty drink container.
Once a bottle is returned, businesses are then responsible for making sure they are effectively recycled – a move that has led to a 97% recycling rate in Germany.