Co-op tackles plastic bottle waste with launch of festival recycling

Co-op will become the first UK retailer to launch reverse vending machines this summer in an attempt to reduce plastic bottle waste at music festivals.

The pilot initiative will see the deposit and return scheme unveiled at a pop-up Co-op store at four major music events.

The reverse vending machines will be installed at Download, Latitude, and Reading and Leeds festivals. The move has been facilitated through a partnership with Festival Republic.

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.

The bottles collected at each festival will then go on to be recycled to create bottles for Co-op’s own brand bottled water.

Jo Whitfield, retail chief executive of 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.

Melvin Benn, managing director of Festival Republic, added: “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.”

The Co-op has pledged to make 100 per cent of its own-brand packaging easy to recycle by 2025 and will also eliminate the use of black and dark plastics from its shelves by 2020.