UK Retailer Iceland Trials 'Reverse Vending Machine'

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UK Retailer Iceland Trials 'Reverse Vending Machine'

British retailer Iceland has announced that it is the first UK supermarket to implement a ‘reverse vending machine’ in store, in support of the government’s intention to introduce a deposit return scheme in the country.

Shoppers can insert empty containers into the machine and receive money or vouchers in return. It will accept any Iceland plastic beverage bottles and reimburses the customer with a 10p voucher per bottle, which can be used in store.

The frozen-food company will be trialling the machine in its outlet in Fulham, London, for a six-month period.

Consumer Perceptions

The trial’s stated objective is to ‘understand consumer perceptions and appetite for the technology’. This knowledge will help Iceland ‘maximise’ the environmental benefits of the upcoming national scheme.

The retailer said that it had consulted with suppliers about the scheme, in order to better understand possible impacts to the supply chain.


In January, Iceland pledged to remove plastic packaging from all of its private-label lines by the end of 2023.

Managing director Richard Walker said of the initiative, "The vocal support Iceland has received since announcing our intention to eradicate plastic packaging has shown us that there is a huge public will to tackle the scourge of plastics.

"There are 12 million tonnes of plastic entering our oceans every year, so we feel a responsibility both to tackle the issue of plastic packaging, as we are doing with our own-label products, and to give our customers the power to make a difference themselves," Walker added.

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove, lauded Iceland for "leading the way" with the reverse vending-machine trial.


In the past, Iceland has positioned itself as an environmental defender. It was the first UK supermarket to remove artificial flavours and colours, as well as palm oil, from its own-label lines. It has 900 stores in the UK.

Plastic Concerns

Concerns about the effects of the excessive consumption of plastic have been raised worldwide. Other retailers, such as Morrisons, Sainsbury's and Asda, have pledged to cut plastic packaging in their own-brand lines to varying degrees.

British Prime Minister Theresa May previously announced that the government would eliminate avoidable plastic waste by 2042, as part of a "national plan of action".

 © 2018 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Karen Henderson. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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