Lidl’s reverse vending machine allows customers to return plastic bottles in exchange for vouchers

Lowering our carbon footprint and being environmentally friendly has quickly become a top priority, which is why we were only too delighted to hear about Lidl Ireland’s reverse vending machine and Deposit Return Scheme.

To date, the reverse vending machine, which launched in Irish stores just 11 weeks ago, has collected more than 64,000 plastic bottles and aluminium cans from customers and paid out more than €6,400 in vouchers. 

The milestone comes as the government announces the national roll out of the Deposit Return Scheme as part of the Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy. The success of the trial represents double what is being collected by some of the retailer’s European counterparts signifying an overwhelmingly positive response from Irish customers on engaging with the recycling initiative.

When the national legislation is implemented next year, customers will be charged a deposit on plastic bottles and aluminium cans which will be paid back to them when returning their recyclable materials. 

Participation is critical to the success of this legislation and Lidl’s trial demonstrates a clear consumer willingness to take part. The government anticipates the nationwide plan to be fully operational by the end of 2022.

The machine at Lidl Glenageary enables customers to deposit used plastic beverage bottles and aluminium cans in return for money-back vouchers redeemable in-store. A first in the Irish retail industry, Lidl’s reverse vending machines will aim to redirect 1,500 tonnes of plastic annually that will then be manufactured into new products. 

The trial is the beginning of a larger rollout across Lidl’s store network with an ambition of having a nationwide scheme in place by 2023 in line with government objectives.

The reverse vending machines are simple to use and will accept both plastic PET drinks bottles and aluminium cans purchased at Lidl and in other retailers. For every unit deposited a customer will receive a €0.10 voucher in return with a maximum voucher limit of €2. 

The machine can collect and process up to 17,000 units a week which is representative of approximately 1,500 tonnes in a year when rolled out to Lidl’s 170 stores nationwide.

Speaking about the success of the trial, J.P. Scally, CEO of Lidl Ireland and Northern Ireland said: “Sustainability is at the core of our business, and while we were delighted to be first-to-market with this industry leading approach to a Deposit Return Scheme, we are overwhelmed by the participation from our customers.”