Iceland trials plastic bottle recycling scheme with voucher offer

Stephanie Hawthorne
21 May 2018

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.



In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Once again the onus is on the consumer - who had little or no choice when making the purchase. The Industry could do far more. We used to buy drinks in waxed cardboard (being slightly cheaper than the glass bottles which were the norm). We were then told that deforestation was threatening the planet so an alternative to paper was needed ... plastic became the 'great' redeemer. Brown paper carrier bags (at a charge) disappeared from the earth and so... voila! Free plastic bags with the company's name, were the replacement (all that free advertising must have been a Godsend to the financial managers in retail).Metal dustbins were replaced by guess what... and issued to every householder by local councils (not 1, not 2, not 3 but 4 in some cases) I could go on and on! The public didn't demand plastic - we were given no choice and still haven't. Every shop should have an enormous bin whereby the public could discard all the stuff that we peel off our purchases - I'd do it before I got in the car. Make the Industry responsible - it's they that produce it. If its not wrapped in plastic then it won't get dumped!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I'm a HUGE admirer of the Iceland MD, this isn't the first time he's taken an innovative step to improve his family-owned business and protect the environment either, despite the costs involved, which usually are not passed on to the customer and I hope that's the case with these machines too. Well done Iceland, another great move, let's hope others follow without being mandated!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

When I was a lass you never saw an empty bottle. Everybody took them back to get their 2d or 4d on them. Folks were poor then and 2d (lp) was the price of a bag of chips. Put a meaningful deposit on all bottles and they wouldn't be thrown around the countryside. The sooner the better.

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