Nine organisations and companies including IKEA, Network Rail and three Scottish universities are trialling an initiative that incentivises the recycling of cans and bottles.
Consumers will be rewarded for returning glass, plastic (PET) and aluminium drinks containers with various perks such as cash-back, discount vouchers or donations to charities.
At IKEA stores in Glasgow and Edinburgh, shoppers can use a ‘reverse vending’ machine to deposit bottles or cans bought on site in exchange for a voucher - each item deposited is worth 10p to be redeemed in store or as a donation to charity.
The programme is part of Zero Waste Scotland’s commitment to recycle 70% and landfill only 5% by 2025.
On a visit to the IKEA Edinburgh store, the Scottish environment secretary Richard Lochhead (above) said: “Years ago, we thought nothing of taking our empty glass bottles back to the shops with the added bonus of getting cash back in our pocket. Now thanks to modern technology we are breathing new life into this traditional approach through the Recycle and Reward scheme.
“By offering customers incentives such as money back or vouchers for recycling their glass bottles and cans when out shopping, at college or travelling to work, I hope we can encourage more people to recycle on the go.”
He said that around 22,000 tonnes of plastic drinks bottles go to landfill in Scotland, which is worth £6m to the economy.
Ikea’s store manager Linton Scarborough said: “We have a number of different sustainability initiatives in place in stores across the UK and also as a company, so we are thrilled to be the first business to trial the ‘Recycle and Reward’ scheme at both of the Scottish IKEA stores. We hope it will play a part in making sure recycling is always front of mind for both our customers and co-workers alike.”
Along with IKEA, eight other organisations or businesses will be trialling the reverse vending machine initiative, including the University of Dundee, Glasgow Caledonian University, Heriot Watt University, Whitmuir Organics, North Ayrshire Council, Network Rail, Hebridean Celtic Festival.
The pilots will run until September 2013 and will be independently monitored and evaluated to inform the potential roll-out of the scheme across Scotland.
Iain Gulland, director, Zero Waste Scotland, said: “Through this pilot, we want to assess the impact of this approach which has proved successful around the world, including in Germany, South Australia and Scandinavia.”
Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) welcomed the ‘Recycle & Reward’ initiative as an experiment in new ways to incentivise behaviour change around on-the-go recycling.
But CIWM chief executive Steve Lee warned against “setting up schemes that detract from the effective recycling infrastructure that councils have put in place, which has already engaged householders without the need for rewards and has delivered today’s recycling rate of over 40%.”
CIWM also said it was important to focus on recyclables that would not otherwise be targeted and should be monitored closely against abuse of the system.