Hackney Council has become the first local authority in England to install a reverse vending machine on an estate, as part of a new trial.
The machine will allow residents of an estate in Hoxton to recycle a wide variety of cans and plastic bottles in exchange for vouchers, in a bid to increase recycling rates.
The machine has been installed as part of a trial partnership with the estate’s tenants and residents’ association, helping the council to assess the potential for reverse vending as a way to increase recycling on estates, reducing the amount of black bag waste sent for incineration and the carbon footprint of Hackney’s waste system.
According to a statement from Hackney Council, the pilot will seek to establish how any future Government proposals to introduce similar schemes might work in the borough.
Councillor Jon Burke, cabinet member for energy, sustainability and community services at Hackney Council said: “While recycling is by no means the complete solution to our hugely wasteful system of consumption, it is far preferable to the alternative methods of disposal.
“By ensuring that recyclable materials are given an economic value, reverse vending has the potential to divert significant amounts of waste away from landfill and incineration, reduce virgin resource depletion, stimulate the circular economy, and materially benefit the public.
“While a small number of reverse vending trials have been undertaken by large supermarkets within their premises, we believe that estates and large apartment complexes have significant potential as reverse vending locations in an environment where people are increasingly conducting smaller food shopping trips and visiting supermarkets less frequently.”
The move follows the introduction of similar reverse vending trials by major UK retailers including Iceland, Sainsbury’s and Tesco in the recent past.
Iceland announced in August that over 1 million bottles had been recycled through reverse vending machines at its stores during the trial period.
During the trial, Iceland carried out a survey asking what factors motivated people to use the machines. 67% of those surveyed cited environmental concerns, while the retailer claimed that 96% of shoppers surveyed believed that the scheme should be extended to all retailers.
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