Aldi store


Aldi, Co-op and Morrisons are among retailers backing the first whole-town trial of a digital deposit return scheme (DDRS), The Grocer can reveal.

The three-month trial, which starts in Brecon, Wales on 13 July, was announced two weeks after the UK’s first DRS scheme was shelved, amid huge controversy and growing claims from supporters that a digital-based system could be a far less costly alternative for industry and governments.

Whilst there is no deposit in the trial, more than 4,000 households will be able to claim a 10p reward, digitally on an app or manually from stores, each time they recycle drinks containers with the trial including PET bottles, cans, gas and Tetra Pak products sold by more than 20 different retailers.

Companies running the trial, which is also backed by major suppliers including Nestlé and Danone, are expecting around 250,000 product returns during the period, which they say is by far the biggest trial to date of DDRS technology.

A marketing campaign will ask households to scan a QR code when they recycle products at home for kerbside collections, with community bins and over the counter return points at local c-stores as well as Holland & Barrett also being employed.

Other major retailers involved include Boots and WH Smith.

The first town trials of DDRS were due to have been carried out in Welshpool, starting in the autumn, but were postponed and then canned after Tesco pulled out, amid the ongoing chaos of the wider DRS rollout in Scotland and proposals for a system across the UK.

However, Duncan Midwood, a consultant for the DDRS Alliance, which is being supported by waste giant Biffa and Wrap, said there was a growing belief that digital would be a major part of the solution for DRS, able to save retailers from the huge expenses involved in employing a network of reverse vending machines.

Whilst the trial includes glass it will only be returnable via kerbside collections, with Midwood saying it “avoided the nightmare” of glass being returned to stores.

“Momentum is building behind digital,” said Midwood. “I’m as confident as I ever have been that DDRS is the future, but that is not to downplay the barriers ahead in making it happen.”