Following the launch of its market-leading trial of in-store reverse vending machines, Iceland has reported significant consumer take-up, with more than 310,000 bottles recycled.
The UK’s leading frozen food specialist was the first UK supermarket to install reverse vending machines in-store, in support of the Government’s proposed Deposit Return Scheme in England, and in line with the supermarket’s continued efforts to reduce the impact of singleuse plastics on the environment. The trial was launched after the retailer became the first globally to commit to removing plastic packaging from all own label products by 2023.
Since the launch of the trial six months ago, a total of 311,500 bottles have been scanned into the reverse vending machines in stores across the UK. The trial incorporated England, Scotland and Wales with machines installed in Fulham, Wolverhampton, Musselburgh and Mold.
In November alone, a daily average of 2,583 bottles were recycled across the four sites, with an average of £250 in coupons refunded per day.
Reverse vending machines reward individuals 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 10p voucher to be used in store for each bottle recycled.
In addition, 40 interviews were conducted across the trial stores to understand consumer perceptions and appetite for the proposed official Deposit Return Scheme. Monetary rewards, 2 environmental consciousness, additional recycling potential and assured recycling were all listed as key factors influencing the use of the scheme.
A key finding of the qualitative research was the role of children in recycling via reverse vending machines – children seemed particularly engaged with how the machines work, with some even educating their parents and encouraging them to use. A number of schools have engaged with the trial, which further supported in engaging consumers through word of mouth recommendations.
Richard Walker, Managing Director at Iceland, commented: “Iceland has continually led the way in the fight against the scourge of plastic since making our announcement to eliminate plastic from our own label product packaging.
“The launch of reverse vending machine trials in our stores is one sign of this. 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.
We’ll be using these findings to inform future Iceland initiatives, and will be sharing our findings with DEFRA and across the industry to ensure any nationwide roll-outs are comprehensive and effective in our goal of tackling the issue of single-use plastics.”
Following the success of the trial, Iceland will extend for a further six months in order to collect further data on the positive environmental impact of a potential national roll-out.