Tesco offers money for plastic bottles in reverse vending trials

Tesco has announced that it will trial in-store reverse vending machines for plastic bottles, as it calls on the UK Government to introduce a nation-wide approach to recycling.

The supermarket will trial reverse vending machines across select stores in Borehamwood, Swansea, Edinburgh, Manchester and Birmingham, with the first opening for customers in Borehamwood today (27 September).

The machines will pay 10p for each plastic bottle deposited, with a limit of 10 bottles per customer, per day. Bottles up to 750ml in size can be deposited. Tesco joins the likes of Iceland and The Co-op in trialling the machines.

A national poll conducted by YouGov found that almost 75% of the general public would be likely to return packaging such as plastic bottles or aluminium cans through reverse vending systems. Building on this public support, Tesco has reiterated its desire for the UK Government to make recycling more consistent from region to region.

Tesco’s chief executive Jason Tarry said: “We are already committed to eliminating single-use plastic wherever we can and make recycling simpler for customers. Today is another step in that direction.

“However, we know that it is going to take retailers, manufacturers and government to work together to make progress. We would urge the government to move to a single, nationwide approach to waste collection that makes it much easier for people to recycle.”

At present, just 43% of the 13 billion plastic bottles sold each year in the UK are recycled, and 700,000 are littered every day. 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, with a consultation launched earlier in the year to outline a potential nationwide version in the UK.

Plastic plans

Tesco has also announced that customers will soon be able to bring multi-use plastic containers for when they purchase from meat, cheese, fish or deli counters. Single-use plastic bags will be replaced, with products instead wrapped in 100% recyclable and biodegradable paper and then placed inside customer containers.

This option will be rolled out to more than 700 UK stores, following a successful trial at 10 locations.

The UK’s largest grocer last year published its Little Helps plan, which includes packaging targets of halving packaging by weight against a 2007 baseline by 2025 – having reduced packaging by weight by 37% since 2007. Other targets include making all packaging compostable or recyclable and ensuring all paper and card is sustainably sourced.

Tesco is also working with rival supermarkets to uncover a solution for hard-to-recycle black plastic that places recycled content into food-grade packaging.

Last month, Tesco became the first supermarket to stock and offer cans of water.

For an in-depth look at what Britain’s supermarkets are doing to reduce the amount of single-use plastics in circulation, click here.

Matt Mace

Comments (1)

  1. Scott Peacock says:

    Norway and DNmark ( and others) have had this deposit system nationwide for years. Catch up UK!

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