It’s been one of the vending industry’s biggest talking points for many years, but this week the UK took a step closer to action with the announcement from DEFRA that reverse vending is due to become a reality in 2025.
In this article we look at a couple of the implications of the proposed Deposit Return Scheme and how vending machines will pay a pivotal role in helping recycle more plastic.
What is Reverse Vending?
Reverse vending is a concept for reducing plastic consumption and increasing recycling rates by allowing consumers to return their used bottles through reverse vending machines, and receive cashback for doing so.
The cash that’s returned would be built into the cost of buying the product in the first place, and will be reimbursed upon return of the plastic bottle. This means that substantial infrastructure changes need to be put in place to allow (and encourage) recycling to take place.
Reverse vending machines can be found in use across Europe and Asia, and have seen plastic return rates of as high as 98%.
Who will be affected by the drink container Deposit Return Scheme?
More than 14 billion plastic drinks containers and 9 billion drinks cans are purchased each year in the UK, with the vast majority being sent to landfill or littered. If you purchase drinks in plastic bottles or metal cans in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, this may have an impact on the cost of the products you’re purchasing.
It is hoped that everyone will see a positive impact from this scheme too, with an aim of reducing plastic drinks container waste by 85% within three years of the scheme launching. The extra infrastructure investment will also make it easier for consumers to recycle their old bottles, with most of return points likely to be hosted on the drink product retailers’ sites.
How much support is there for this scheme?
A recent consultation by DEFRA found that 83% of respondents supported the new deposit return system, and government figures are keen to see the scheme up and running, and effective, as soon as possible.
Leaders in the soft drinks industry are also sharing their support for this new scheme, following the recent announcement.
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said:
“We want to support people who want to do the right thing to help stop damaging plastics polluting our green spaces or floating in our oceans and rivers.”
Gavin Partington, Director General of the British Soft Drinks Association, said:
“We welcome Defra’s commitment to introducing an all-in can/PET deposit return scheme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. By kickstarting the UK’s circular economy for drinks containers, the Deposit Return Scheme will help consumers play their part in ensuring the containers they buy are returned for recycling. We look forward to working with officials to help guarantee its success.”