206 words approx. 1 minute read

This summer we’re excited to become the first major grocer to trial a plastic bottle deposit and return scheme (DRS) with reverse vending machines. The machines will be installed in our Co-op pop-up shops at four music festivals and is part of our commitment to increase recycling and reduce waste.

Deposit-and-return-plastic-bottle-machine

The machines will be in the Co-op pop-up shops at

Plastic bottles sold at our Co-op pop-up shops will have a deposit added to the price, with festival goers then able to return their empty bottles to the reverse vending machine in exchange for a voucher to spend back in-store, or they can choose to donate the value to charity. The bottles collected at each festival will then go on to be recycled to create new bottles for Co-op branded water.

We know that the issues of waste, packaging and recyclability are a big concern for our members and customers. Last year Co-op Members voted to make 100% of our packaging easy to recycle.

Water #TheCoopWay

Our Co-op branded water makes a difference to communities around the world. We donate 3p for every litre sold water to The One Foundation and, 1p for every litre sold of branded water to Water Unite.

Last year alone raised over £1.7 million to fund clean, safe, water projects.

Iain Ferguson
Environment Manager

Read more about reducing impacts at our Co-op

Join the conversation! 31 Comments

  1. Great idea but if you were really into getting rid of plastics wouldn’t you be trying to not pack the products in plastics in the first place! And why can’t customers have money back rather then vouchers to shop at co-op again – to me this sounds just like a ploy to get people to spend more money in co-op – you give them a voucher and usually people always spend more than the voucher.

    Another question – why are single items such as apples more expensive then the ones in packs that are wrapped in plastic, 6 apples wrapped in plastic would be cheaper than 6 single apples (no plastic) – not really persuading customers to shop plastic free!?

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  2. Nearly a year on, how are you doing with this scheme? Put them up in towns and cities to help those who need to use food banks etc?

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    • I would be very interested in finding what the response would be to this and who would take advantage of it. Personally all my plastic bottles go into my recycling bin so it would be inconvenient for me to have to bring them back to the store for the refund. Basically I think it is a good idea if it does make a difference and I am glad to see the Co-op taking steps to address this problem. Using this at one-off events does seem a good idea. As a child I can remember collecting empties so I could benefit from the refund – I wonder if this would happen at festivals, etc.

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  3. […] Co-op and Iceland, both based in the U.K., were the first major supermarkets to throw their supportbehind a deposit system, doing so in November 2017. In April 2018, coffee chain Pret A Manger showed […]

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  4. […] Co-op and Iceland, both based in the U.K., were the first major supermarkets to throw their supportbehind a deposit system, doing so in November 2017. In April 2018, coffee chain Pret A Manger showed […]

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  5. Hi Binny, you need to contact Download festival for this one ^Jordan

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  6. Hi Binny, let me finhd out, bear with me ^Jordan

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  7. Hi, We were given raffle tickets at Download festival for recycling and was told they would be listed to win tickets to next years festival, but cannot find the listed winning tickets any where on the Download site or here. Please help???

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  8. This is fab news. I work in the coop in Perranporth. Out of interest what is happening to the DRS Machines after the festivals,as Perranporth gained plastic free status early this year and having one of these would be great for the community.

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    • That’s fantastic news, Michelle. We’re not sure how the trials will go yet, but fingers crossed they will go well and we can talk about a larger rollout ^Siobhan

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  9. […] We’re trialling a plastic bottle Deposit Return Scheme […]

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  10. I hope the scheme is a success and is rolled out throughout all the Cooperative groups

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  11. Hi Gilly, thanks for your post, this is an early stage trial, we’re committed to the roll out of the bottle deposit and return scheme if the government calls upon retailers to do so. Thanks, ^Scott

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    • Thank you for your response.

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    • Why wait until the government wants you to do it? Be pro-active about making the change now, not reactive when you’re told you have to…

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      • I do not have any deposit refund schemes at present where I live, in order to return bottles. When I beach clean I recycle any plastic bottles retrieved.

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        • I was responding to co-op, in reference to them saying they’re not going to implement the scheme in-store unless government legislation forces them to – sounds like you’re doing your bit for the environment as best you can!

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          • I am sorry Ecowarrior, I have a little trouble following the reply thread on here. I am used to another website where the reply thread differs.
            Thank you.

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  12. I am just wondering if plastic water, drinks, milk bottles, are returned to a shop, on a deposit basis, then will the local councils lose out financially, as they currently collect them with the kerbside recycling? If the local council’s generated revenue is lost in this way, how will they subsidise the loss to their budgets, for which to sustain essential services?

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    • It will cost much more for councils to collect and sort out plastics than they will get in return. Suppliers and retailers should take on this disaster of plastic pollution and this initiative is an excellent move in the right direction.

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      • Unfortunately though it will not prevent the ones that wash up on my local beaches that come in from boats, over which we have no control.

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  13. Great idea! Hope you’ll include some of the Scottish concerts/festivals too! Stirling are hosting Runrig’s final tour in August!

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  14. If we had stuck to glass bottles there would be no need for this. The milkman used to take the empties when delivering the milk. Very short sighted when we were bombarded with everything coming in plastic. Someone made a lot of money from that and no one questioned the change of use to plastic, or weather it would be a good thing.

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  15. Brilliant! Stay ahead of the competition!

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  16. Great initiative, hope to see these rolled out across our stores!

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  17. Indeed this is great initiatives. I wish all the success of this great project.

    My sincere thanks and appreciation to all personnel involved in the process.

    Kind regards
    MM Murshed

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  18. This really is excellent news and a really positive action on the part of our Co-operative Society. We need to role the scheme out to as many suitable stores and events as possible asap.
    Well done to all involved in this much needed initiative.
    Perhaps members could help by donating their community Dividend spend on sponsoring a machine !

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    • Yes i totally agree, it would be good if the coop could role them out to the communities that have gained plastic free status or based in coastal towns.

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  19. […] Read more about this summer’s DRS trial from Iain Ferguson, Environment Manager at Co-op, in his blog. […]

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  20. Great to hear the news. I hope the trials work and we shall shortly see them in our local Co-op.

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