Britain’s largest retailer, Tesco, has announced that it will be encouraging its shoppers to take recycling more seriously as it trials in-store recycling machines for the first time.
The machines, which pay customers for each bottle they return, will be trialled in the retailer’s stores in Manchester, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Swansea and Borehamwood. The first machine opened in Borehamwood, giving customers 10 pence for every bottle they returned.
UK government data reveals that only 57 percent of bottles sold in 2016 were recycled. A rate well behind many other European countries, such as Denmark, which has impressive rates of 90 percent.
Tesco follows in the footsteps of other UK grocers such as the Co-operative, Iceland and Morrisons, who all have similar initiatives in place.
According to data released by YouGov, close to 75 percent of Britons said they were likely to return bottles and cans under the “reverse vending scheme.”
Tesco also revealed that as of October 3rd, it will be allowing customers to reuse their own plastic containers to buy fish, cheese or meat at its fish and deli counters throughout the UK. This will remove the need to use single-use bags made from plastic to wrap meat and fish. All products will now be wrapped in a recyclable paper and then placed into the customer’s reusable container.
The retailer has committed itself to making all packaging in its stores fully recyclable or compostable by 2025. It also pressed the government to introduce a nationwide approach towards recycling, similar to those present in Nordic countries.
The CEO of Tesco UK, Jason Tarry, said that the retailer had pledged to eliminate single-use plastic, wherever possible, and wanted to make it easier for customers to recycle.
He added that it was not a straightforward process, however, admitting that in order for recycling to succeed, the government needed to work together with retailers and manufacturers. He said it was up to the government to come up with a nationwide approach towards the collection of rubbish that would make it easier for people to recycle.
Tesco also highlighted the problems connected with having different collection schemes within different local authorities, saying that it was not only costly, but confusing for customers who wanted to recycle.
The move by Tesco was welcomed by Friends of the Earth. The charity released a statement saying that it was happy that yet another supermarket was catching up with public demand by providing their customers with new ways to reduce plastic waste.
However, it added that there was still a long way to go and it hoped that Tesco would continue on its journey towards a plastic-free future. Friends of the Earth said that the only way to achieve this was to end all but the most essential uses of plastic worldwide.
The Government is currently in talks with a number of stakeholders, with the aim of introducing a bottle return scheme throughout the UK, in the hope of raising recycling rates. Recycled plastic is turned into plastic regrinds, which are then transformed through industrial plastic recycling processes to create other plastic items.