Three independent retailers in Scotland have teamed up with the Scottish Grocers Federation (SGF), recycling firm Viridor and reverse vending machine (RVM) manufacturer Envipco to trial RVMs.

The trial, which aims to increase recycling rates and reduce littering, will run in Nisa Local and Post Office in Bellshill, North Lanarkshire, Premier Broadway in Edinburgh and Keystore in Moredun, Edinburgh, from mid-February until April this year. 

Customers will receive 10p for every empty plastic bottle they deposit, with the option to donate to local fundraising campaigns.

Welcoming the trial, Dennis Williams, owner of Premier Broadway, said: “We are launching it on 15 February and are very excited about it. All the vouchers that our customers get back will have the option to be donated to a local school and the partnership we have with them is all about bringing in the local community and saving the planet.

“Hopefully we will raise some money for them so they can buy equipment and whatever else they need. We are going into the school at some point to talk to the children in an assembly, so hopefully the kids especially will want to come and use it.”

The trials come ahead of Scotland’s proposed Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), following a consultation which closed in September 2018, while a consultation on a UK-wide DRS is expected soon.

SGF head of policy and public affairs, Dr John Lee, said: “These trials will give us invaluable learning and insight into deposit return, particularly how shop staff and customers respond to having a RVM sited in-store.

“This learning will ultimately help us develop and implement a system which is effective for retailers, consumers, and communities.”

Envipco president, Bob Lincoln, said: “We know the importance of convenience stores to the retail sector in Scotland. Envipco will do all that we can to support grocers managing the implementation of the DRS, with the end goal of increasing recycling rates and reducing littering.

“We want it to become the norm that a bottle a customer buys is reprocessed and used to make a new bottle. This trial shows how important partnership is to making that happen – the whole chain working together – retailers, recyclers, manufacturers and back again.”

Mo Razzaq, owner of Family Shopper Blantyre, has already installed an RVM to recycle drinks bottles, cans and glass as part of a six-month trial.

Mo said of his trial: “I’ve been surprised by how well customers of all ages have taken to it. The machine has attracted lots of attention from local politicians, environmental groups and schools.”