Iceland has become the first UK supermarket to install an in-store reverse vending machine, in support of the government’s intention to introduce a deposit return scheme in England.
The frozen food specialist will trial the vending machine in its Fulham, London, store initially for six months, in a move to understand consumer perceptions and appetite for the technology.
Reverse vending machines reward consumers for recycling, by providing money or vouchers in return for empty containers. Iceland’s reverse vending machine accepts any Iceland plastic beverage bottle and repays customers with a £0.10 voucher to be used in store for each bottle recycled.
The announcement follows pledges earlier this year that Iceland will aim to scrap plastic packaging and palm oil from its own-label products.
Iceland managing director Richard Walker said: “The vocal support Iceland has received since announcing our intention to eradicate plastic packaging has shown us that there is a huge public will to tackle the scourge of plastics.
The machine repays customers with a £0.10 voucher to be used in store for each bottle recycled.
“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. We’re doing it properly, through consultation with suppliers and by gaining understanding of how customers will act in response to the machine.
“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.”
Michael Gove, UK secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, said: “We can be in no doubt that plastic is damaging to our marine environment. Plastic pollution contributes to killing dolphins, choking turtles and degrading our most precious habitats.
“I applaud Iceland for leading the way with their trial scheme. It is absolutely vital we act now to curb the millions of plastic bottles a day that go unrecycled. Support from businesses will be a vital part of ensuring we leave our environment in a better state than we found it.”
Earlier this month, Co-op revealed it will trial a deposit return scheme, with machines installed at several UK music festivals this summer.