Sainsbury’s to accept glass in deposit return trials for bottles

Sainsbury’s is offering a 5p coupon for every drinks container returned via the machine

Sainsbury’s has announced it will trial reverse vending technology that accepts glass and plastic bottles and cans.

Located at the Newbury supermarket in Berkshire, the machine, provided by reverse vending manufacturers Tomra, will include glass in the containers it accepts.

Sainsbury’s is offering a 5p coupon for every drinks container returned via the machine.

Tomra Collection UK & Ireland’s managing director Truls Haug said: “We are excited to be working with Sainsbury’s on this landmark trial. “Showing how three materials can be easily collected in stores with Tomra reverse vending technology is an important learning for retailers and consumers as we move towards an all-inclusive deposit return scheme in the UK.”

A similar reverse vending collection machine for both plastics and glass was also introduced in Edinburgh Ikea store in 2013 by the Reverse Vending Corporation. The model was then donated to Barts Health NHS Trust Royal London Hospital. It was recently removed in anticipation for a UK-wide Deposit Return Scheme.

UK recycling rates for plastic bottles stood at just 43%, with 700,000 being littered every day and 7.4 billion sent to landfill or incineration each year. In stark contrast, a return scheme was introduced in Germany in 2003 and 99% of plastic bottles are now recycled there.

This has led UK MPs to believe that a deposit return scheme could help to boost the UK’s plastic recycling rate to 90% and help businesses repurpose plastic waste streams by assigning them a value.

As part of the consultation, MPs are exploring whether a system that includes all containers should be introduced. An “all-in” deposit return system that accounted for all types of drinks cans and bottles in the UK could generate up to £2bn for the economy over a 10-year period, compared to £250m for an “on-the-go” system that collected less.

Iceland’s milestone

In related news, Iceland has now recycled more than one million plastic bottles since May 2018, when it first introduced reverse vending machines that offer cash deposits to consumers that return plastic bottles across select stores.

Walker added that additional support from the Government would enable the retailer to fit a machine at everyone one of its 950 UK stores.

Iceland has been trialling the machines across stores in Fulham, Mold, Musselburgh and Wolverhampton in May-June 2018, and Belfast in January 2019. Machines were also installed at Iceland store in the Merrion Centre, Leeds.

The retailer also conducted a survey examining consumer attitudes to return systems for plastic bottles. In total, 96% believe the scheme should be extended to all retailers, while 75% claim that 20p deposits on plastic bottles would be a “good idea”.

Matt Mace

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