The Co-op Group is set to pioneer a deposit and return scheme (DRS) trial using reverse vending machines, with a view to rolling out the equipment to more stores.

The pilot initiative will see the DRS unveiled at a pop-up Co-op store at four major festivals this summer: Download (8-10 June), Latitude (12-15 July) and Reading and Leeds festivals (24-26 August). The move has been facilitated through a partnership with Festival Republic.

A spokesman told C-Store: “Once this trial is completed, we will look to use the machines in further trials within more standard Co-op stores (ie not festival sites). We have been very clear that we advocate the use of DRS and these trials will help us to understand how best to support that ambition.”

However, it was too early to say whether they could be introduced in independent stores supplied by the Co-op, he added.

In the trial, plastic bottles sold at the Co-op pop-up stores will have a mandatory deposit added to the price, with revellers able to return them to the reverse vending machine in exchange for a voucher to spend in the on-site stores. The bottles collected at each festival will then go on to be recycled to create bottles for Co-op’s own brand bottled water.

The government is expected to launch a consultation on the introduction of a DRS scheme later in the summer.

Co-op Retail ceo Jo Whitfield said: “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.

“Reducing the amount of plastic that makes its way to landfill is really important to us and our members. We’re committed to giving our customers ways to make more ethical choices, so this is a hugely exciting milestone in our sustainability journey to achieve our future aim of making all of our food packaging 100% recyclable.”

The Co-op has pledged to make 100% of its own-brand packaging easy to recycle by 2025 and will also eliminate the use of black and dark plastics from its shelves by 2020.