Iceland’s Reverse Vending Machines Recycle Over 1 Million Plastic Bottles In Just Over One Year

Iceland has recycled more than 1 million plastic bottles since May 2018, following its industry-leading move to trial reverse vending machines in a selection of its stores.

During the trial period Iceland has been gaining feedback from its customers, who have responded extremely positively with 96% of shoppers believing the scheme should be extended to all retailers.

Iceland’s customer insights showed the main motivation for people using the reverse vending machines was environmental concerns, with two thirds (67%) choosing this option above any others.

The bottle return data and customer insight was taken from Iceland’s five stores that had reverse vending machines installed during the last year: Fulham, Mold, Musselburgh and Wolverhampton in May-June 2018, and Belfast in January 2019. The trial at The Food Warehouse in Wolverhampton ended in July 2019, when a new machine was installed at the Iceland store in the Merrion Centre, Leeds.

The trial highlights widespread consumer support for the introduction of a deposit return scheme, with two thirds of customers using the machines at least once a fortnight, and 75% believing the introduction of 20p deposits on plastic bottles would be a good idea.

Richard Walker, Managing Director at Iceland, commented: “The results from our reverse vending machine trials highlight the growing demand from consumers to have a deposit return scheme introduced across the UK.

“Iceland was the first retailer to trial reverse vending machines and we believe the customer feedback we have received shows that our simple model of accepting all sizes of plastic drinks bottle – and extending this to include drinks cans – is the only sensible way to roll out a deposit return scheme nationally.

“We have more than 950 stores across the UK and with the support of the government we could fit a reverse vending machine in every one of our stores. With over 1 million bottles returned to just five of our stores, the positive environmental impact of having machines across the UK would be phenomenal.”

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