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Co-op to trial reverse vending machines at UK summer festivals

Co-op is to launch a deposit and return scheme (DRS) trial with reverse vending machines at four major music festivals this summer, as part of its drive to increase recycling and reduce marine pollution.

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.

To close the loop in the trial, 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 retailer said it is the first UK retailer to launch a DRS trial, with the reverse vending machines to be installed on-site at Co-op pop-up stores at Download (8-10 June), Latitude (12-15 July) and Reading and Leeds festivals (24-26 August).

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Jo Whitfield, retail CEO, Co-op, 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. I’m excited that, in partnership with Live Nation and Recycling Options, 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.

“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 move has been facilitated through a partnership with Festival Republic, with its managing director, Melvin Benn, noting: “We welcome over 350,000 revellers across these four iconic festival sites.

“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 machines, in addition to the existing deposit return schemes at the festivals.”

Paul Ure, managing director of Recycling Options who are providing the machines with Envipco Holdings, added: “Recycling Options, in partnership with Envipco Holdings, is delighted to be supporting Co-op, the first UK retailer to showcase reverse vending solutions, at the innovative pop-up supermarkets this summer.”