8 November 2019 by Lucy Pegg

Hackney installs ‘UK first’ reverse vending machine

Hackney council has claimed to be the first local authority to install a reverse vending machine as part of its efforts to improve recycling rates in flats and on estates.

Cllr Jon Burke and Jeannette White from the estate’s tenants and residents’ association with the new reverse vending machine

The new machine, which has been supplied by Unisan,  is installed on an estate in Hoxton and residents will receive vouchers in exchange for recycling cans and plastic bottles.

The three month trial is taking place in partnership with the estate’s tenants and residents’ association and it will assess the potential for reverse vending machines to be used as a way to boost recycling on estates.

Hackney says this would reduce the amount of residual waste sent to landfill and the carbon footprint of Hackney’s waste system.

This pilot will also help the London borough to establish how any future government proposals to introduce national deposit return schemes (DRS) – which use reverse vending machines – could operate in Hackney.

Councillor Jon Burke, cabinet member for energy, sustainability and community services, said: “While recycling is by no means the complete solution to our hugely wasteful system of consumption, it is far preferable to the alternative methods of disposal.

“By ensuring that recyclable materials are given an economic value, reverse vending has the potential to divert significant amounts of waste away from landfill and incineration, reduce virgin resource depletion, stimulate the circular economy, and materially benefit the public.”


The machine has been supplied by Unisan, which previously supplied the equipment for trials at Merlin Entertainment theme parks (see letsrecycle.com story).

“ Reverse vending has the potential to divert significant amounts of waste away from landfill and incineration”

Cllr Jon Burke, Hackney council

The reverse vending machine is part of a variety of interventions which hope to increase household recycling rates on Hackney’s estates. Other measures include delivering a ‘green champion’ scheme to enable behaviour change and adding 150 bins to housing estates owned by the local authority.

Cllr Burke highlighted the importance of positioning the reverse vending machine in a public space.

“While a small number of reverse vending trials have been undertaken by large supermarkets within their premises, we believe that estates and large apartment complexes have significant potential as reverse vending locations in an environment where people are increasingly conducting smaller food shopping trips and visiting supermarkets less frequently,” he said.

The vouchers will enable residents to claim money off at two nearby shops. There are no tonnage targets for the machine as the initial trial hopes to monitor the amount recycled at the housing block.


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