Scotland’s official deposit return scheme for bottles and cans might be delayed, but that isn’t stopping Sainsbury’s stores in Aberdeen from getting the ball rolling.
Take your empty drinks bottles to Sainsbury’s this festive season and you’ll earn 5p per item you return.
The money comes in the form of a coupon which is printed off by the recycling machine and can be redeemed on shopping in store.
How does it work?
We tested the machine at Sainsbury’s in Garthdee. It’s located in the car park to the left of the store entrance (and not beside the other recycling facilities as you might expect).
You can recycle all sorts of bottles and cans – from big plastic juice bottles to beer cans and wine bottles.
Other plastic bottles like milk, ketchup or olive oil aren’t accepted. For now, it is only drinks bottles.
It’s very slick and easy to use.
There are no buttons to press – just start inserting bottles into the opening and a conveyor belt moves them away to be counted.
A small screen keeps a tally of the money you’ll get back and when you’re finished, just wait 30 seconds and a ticket is printed out with the value of your bottle returns.
This is scanned at the checkout in store for a maximum of up to £25 off your shopping bill.
The machine was quick and simple to get working, though it rejected one of my bottles (a bottle of Miller beer) saying that it wasn’t a standard bottle size.
What about the official deposit return scheme?
Under the official scheme, shops in Scotland will eventually be required to install recycling machines and charge a 20p deposit on every can and bottle they sell.
Shops may also receive containers over the counter.
The scheme was due to be launched in April 2021, but was delayed until July next year.
Recently Green MSP Lorna Slater, the Circular Economy Minister, told Holyrood there is still no set timescale for when the scheme will actually be implemented.
However there is nothing stopping retailers from initiating these changes earlier, as Sainsbury’s has been doing.
The supermarket chain is running two different deposit return trials at a number of stores across the UK.
Ten stores have reverse vending machines like those in Berryden and Garthdee.
In these stores, customers get a 5p voucher for each bottle they return (up to 500 bottles) which can be spent in store.
In six stores, the firm is running the trial in a slightly different format where customers hand the empty bottles to a member of staff, and receive 10 Nectar points per bottle.
So depending on where you live (and how much you drink), it might be both lucrative and environmentally friendly to save up your Bailey’s bottles this Christmas.