The Co-op is to launch a deposit return scheme (DRS) trial with reverse vending machines across four major music festivals this summer.
The society will install the machines at its pop-up stores at Download, Latitude as well as Reading and Leeds in partnership with Festival Republic, Live Nation and Recycling Options.
Plastic bottles sold at the Co-op pop-up stores will have a mandatory deposit added to their price. Customers who return their empty bottles to the reverse vending machines will then receive their deposit back in the form of a voucher to spend in the on-site stores. Bottles collected during the trial will be recycled to create bottles for Co-op’s own brand bottled water.
The Co-op’s initiative comes as environment secretary Michael Gove last month announced plans to introduce a mandatory DRS by 2020.
“As the UK’s leading ethical retailer there’s nowhere better for us to start our trial of reverse vending machines than at some of the UK’s most well-loved festivals, said Co-op Retail CEO Jo Whitfield. “Reducing the amount of plastic that makes its way to landfill is really important to us and our members. We have the opportunity to bring these machines to the UK only a few months after they were officially given the green light by the government.”
Whitfield added the Co-op was committed to giving customers ways to make more ethical choices, and called the trial a “hugely exciting milestone” in the society’s sustainability journey to achieve its aim of making all its own-brand packaging 100% recyclable by 2025. It has also pledged to eliminate the use of black and dark plastics from its shelves by 2020.
Melvin Benn, managing director of Festival Republic, said: “It’s absolutely fantastic to think that they will be amongst the first people in the UK to have the opportunity to recycle their plastic bottles simply and easily using the reverse vending machine, in addition to the existing deposit return schemes at the festivals.”