Veolia has teamed up with the restaurant chain Leon to unveil a reverse vending machine which accepts plastics bottles and aluminium cans at its King’s Cross branch in London.
The machine has been launched as part of a pilot scheme that will operate for six months “to encourage people to recycle while on the go”.
Any bottle or can – not just those purchased at Leon – put into the machine will generate a voucher worth 10% off the bill at the nearest Leon restaurant.
The drinks containers will then be collected and processed by Veolia, “to be recycled into new products”.
The pilot has been designed to target the disposable drinks containers most commonly discarded on the go, which consists of bottles under 750ml as well as aluminium cans in order to “make it easy” for people to recycle, reduce littering and enable more materials to be retrieved.
Commenting on the scheme, Richard Kirkman, chief technology and innovation officer at Veolia UK & Ireland said: “A UK-wide deposit return scheme is imperative if we want to round up the millions of stray plastic bottles and cans we as a country are not recycling. This pilot Veolia is conducting with LEON is the yardstick for on the go recycling.”
Mr Kirkman added: “Located in a high footfall area and targeting the drinks containers most commonly misplaced – plastic bottles up to 750ml and aluminium cans – the machine offers an alternative to carrying recyclable items home or discarding as litter. Our research shows people are motivated to recycle, they care about the environment and the vast majority are poised to use a machine like ours when a reasonable walk away.
“We hope as the pilot unfolds, it proves the importance of recycling on the go as well as the need for appropriate infrastructure to facilitate it.”
Echoing this was John Vincent, CEO & Co-Founder of Leon, who said the scheme highlights the steps the company is taking to be “the most sustainable business we can be”.
” Through our Planet Love programme launched in 2019, we will carry on investing in new ways to reduce single use plastics and find better recycling solutions because, put simply, the planet needs us to.
“We’re really excited about this partnership with Veolia because we know that, as an industry, we need to push for the right facilities and infrastructure to ensure better recycling and reuse – this is a great step forward. And we can’t wait to welcome all the recycling warriors into our restaurants and reward their efforts with a little thank you from us.”
The reverse vending machine is located under West Handyside Canopy, adjacent to Granary Square in King’s Cross.
The move comes as the government consults on a potential DRS system in the UK, with the debate centring on whether to target ‘on-the-go material’ or larger drinks containers, too. Some respondents are also expected to say a DRS is not necessary.