02/01/2019 11:55 GMT | Updated 03/01/2019 09:20 GMT

More Than 300,000 Plastic Bottles Recycled In Iceland's Reverse Vending Machine Trial

Customers are paid with a 10p voucher for each bottle recycled.

Iceland’s reverse vending machine trial has resulted in 310,000 plastic bottles being recycled by customers, the supermarket has revealed.

Last year, the supermarket trialled the vending machine in its Fulham store for six months, before rolling it out in Wolverhampton, Mold and Musselburgh, as well as its head office in Deeside.

The machine rewards shoppers for returning used plastic bottles by paying them a 10p Iceland voucher per bottle.

Iceland became the first UK supermarket to install these machines in-store, in line with the government’s planned plastic recycling deposit return scheme, proposed last March.

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Since the launch of the reverse vending machines, 311,500 bottles have been recycled in stores across the UK. In November alone, a daily average of 2,583 bottles were recycled across the sites, with an average of £250 in coupons paid out per day.

A spokesperson for Iceland said children seemed to be particularly engaged with how the machines work, with some even educating their parents and encouraging them to use it. A number of schools got involved with the trial too.


Richard Walker, Iceland’s managing director, believes the supermarket has continually led the way in the fight against plastic since eliminating it from their own-label product packaging. 

“The launch of reverse vending machine trials in our stores is another sign of this,” he said. “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.”

[Read More: I gave up plastic for a year – and you can, too]

Walker said they’ll be using the findings to inform future Iceland initiatives, and will also be sharing them with DEFRA and across the industry. The supermarket will continue the trial for another six months in order to get more data on the environmental impact of a potential national roll-out.

Will McCallum from Greenpeace UK said he hopes other retailers follow suit.

“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.”