If not, why not!? Trials are underway at Sainsbury’s and other supermarkets to make recycling cans and plastic bottles easier. Will they become commonplace?
Earlier in the month we discussed Waitrose’s new refill stations on trial at its Oxford store.
With more than 130 comments, it’s clear that supermarkets doing more to cut down on single-use plastics and other packaging is a passionate area for their customers.
This month, our magazine’s lead story found that only 52% of supermarket packaging is easily recyclable, so it’s clear that more needs to be done.
With that in mind, I’m pleased to see new initiatives popping up, with ‘reverse vending machines’ catching my eye lately.
The new machines, which can be spotted at some Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons and Co-op stores, allow customers to deposit their used cans and plastic bottles in exchange for money-off coupons towards their shop.
Incentives to recycle
In Sainsbury’s case, customers will receive a 5p coupon for each eligible item returned via the machines.
While I’m sure we all agree that people should be recycling as much as possible anyway, I think incentives are a good way of encouraging more people to get involved.
A few years back, I took part in a Lucozade Sport promotion that offered sports clothing in return for entering codes you could find on the bottles themselves.
I collected hundreds – the majority of them from bottles people discarded after my Saturday football team’s matches (it’s amazing and indeed, a shame, how many plastic bottles are just left behind on the side of a pitch).
With this promotion encouraging me to essentially clean up hundreds of bottles that would otherwise be left behind, could other, similar schemes be used to get more people returning single-use plastics? Do you have any ideas?
There’s lots more to do
It’s great that there are more initiatives appearing to make our shopping more sustainable, such as reusable containers and water bottle refills:
— Sainsbury's (@sainsburys) June 18, 2019
However, going back to the results of our recent investigation, it’s clear that there’s a lot more supermarkets and manufacturers can do to banish single-use plastics and make sure any packaging they do use is minimal, recyclable and correctly labelled, so that shoppers know exactly how they can recycle it.
We want to see the government making labelling mandatory, simple and clear, as well as investing in better infrastructure to ensure that recycling is easy for everyone, regardless of where they live.
For more information on what the government and individual supermarkets are doing, our guide is well worth a read.
We’re also interested in your feedback on the new initiatives and trials that are now appearing regularly at supermarkets. For example, we know from your comments that hygiene is a concern:
Will you be using a reverse vending machine once they’re rolled out to more supermarkets? Have you spotted any other sustainable initiatives at your local stores?
Let us know if you think supermarkets are doing enough, and share your ideas with us.