Deposit return scheme trials move forward

Two trials of deposit return schemes are taking steps forward following the release of details on Defra’s proposals for a UK scheme in its Waste Strategy published last month.


Today, retailer Iceland has reported “significant” consumer take-up of its in-store reverse vending trial, with more than 310,000 bottles recycled.

Iceland says it has recycled more than 310,000 bottles since launching a deposit return scheme trial in May

The frozen food retailer said it was the first UK supermarket to install reverse vending machines in-store, in support of the Government’s proposed deposit return scheme in England.

Since the launch of the trial in May, a total 311,500 bottles have been scanned into the reverse vending machine in five stores across the UK.

The trial incorporated England, Scotland and Wales with machines installed in Wolverhampton, Mold, Fulham and Musselburgh, as well as a machine for staff at the retailer’s head office in Deeside.

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.

Richard Walker, managing director at Iceland, 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.

“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 said it will extend for a further six months in order to collect further data on the positive environmental impact of a potential national roll-out.


Meanwhile, in Scotland, Viridor has announced its involvement in a three-month deposit return scheme trial with three convenience stores.

Starting in February, the waste management firm will be responsible for the collections function of the trial, which is aimed at boosting recycling and reducing littering.

(l-r) Hugh Booth, Viridor local authority contracts manager, with Nisa store manager Abdul Majid, past president of the Scottish Grocers Federation

Viridor will be working with the Scottish Grocers Federation and reverse vending machine manufacturer, Envipco, on the project.

The Scottish trial will see customers receive 10p for every empty plastic bottle or can returned to Nisa Bellshill, Premier Broadway Oxgangs and Keystore Moredun. The stores are all members of the Scottish Grocers Federation – the trade association for the Scottish convenience store sector.

Viridor local authority contracts manager Hugh Booth said: “We see real opportunities in focusing efforts on ‘on-the-go’ materials to complement kerbside local authority collections. This is all part of our message that the key to responsibly dealing with our waste is to see it as a resource which has a value and not rubbish.”

Mr Booth added that the trial would provide “valuable information” on the quality and quantity of material which can be achieved through deposit return schemes with insight into the public’s response.

John Lee, head of public affairs for the Scottish Grocers Federation, added: These trials will give us invaluable learning and insight into deposit return, particularly how shop staff and customers respond to having a reverse vending machine sited in-store. This learning will ultimately help us develop and implement a system which is effective for retailers, consumers and communities.”

The stores will involve their local community in the trial, and will give customers the option to support local fundraising campaigns instead of collecting their 10p deposit per container.


Defra announced a consultation of a DRS for drinks containers from 2023 in its Resources and Waste Strategy published last month (see story). In Scotland, the Government confirmed its plans to implement a DRS for drinks containers across Scotland in 2017. This was followed by a consultation, launched in June last year (see story).

Subscribe for free

Subscribe to receive our newsletters and to leave comments.

The Blog Box

Other Publications from
The Environment Media Group

Back to top