In July, Coca-Cola GB announced a trial project placing branded reverse-vending machines at four Merlin sites. When consumers return a 500ml polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle, they receive a 50%-off voucher for other Merlin attractions. The trial runs until 19 October.
Jon Dormer, managing director of Unisan UK, the company that provided the machines, told Food Manufacture that it could be a “ticket to ride” for many smaller drinks manufacturers keen to show they were taking a lead in sustainability.
Unpredictable redemption rates
He admitted some brands were apprehensive about unpredictable redemption rates. “However, even where that’s the case, this is still helping brands to meet their corporate social responsibility targets,” Dormer said. “What’s more, we can offer additional consumer incentives, such as a bonus on every 1,000th bottle.”
Different models of Unisan’s CafeCrush machines accept PET bottles, cans and drinks cups. Many were installed in workplaces and cafés, said Dormer, where their operational benefits included a reduction in waste handling and compact waste storage.
Collection by reverse vending also resulted in much higher quality, uncontaminated recycling stock, he said. This is especially important as more brands and retailers commit to increasing the amount of food-grade recyclate they include in their new PET bottles.
Retailers run trials
In addition, UK retailers were already exploring the area of reverse vending for themselves, according to Dormer.
A company called Reverse Vending is running separate trials with reverse vending machines at Morrisons and Iceland stores in England and Scotland.
The incentive for Iceland customers is a 10p voucher for the chain. Morrisons, meanwhile, is offering either loyalty points or a 10p donation to a designated charity.