The Value of Reverse Vending Machines for Your Business

Reverse Vending

Did you know that approximately 1.9 billion drinks bottles and cans are consumed in Ireland each year?

In an effort to reduce the effects of plastic waste on our environment, the Irish government have introduced a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) to come into effect in early 2024. The DRS was proposed following a series of trials, particularly within Lidl and Aldi key stores in Dublin, Cork, Kildare, and Mayo. While supermarkets across both Ireland and the UK have been early adopters, there are many more applications for these machines thanks to the Deposit Return Scheme.

Some examples of other Irish groups using these machines to do good and earn extra cash include:

In this guide, we’ll walk through what these waste management tools are and creative ways to use them on your premises.

What is a Reverse Vending Machine?

Reverse vending machines accept plastic bottles (PET) and metal cans, and issue vouchers or credits based on Ireland’s deposit return scheme (DRS). The machines can read both shapes and barcodes to recognise when a bottle or can is suitable for recycling.

You can install a reverse vending machine at your store or facility. Generally, these are installed indoors but can be installed outdoors under a specifically designed canopy if required. You can use it first as a tool for plastic recycling management, as well as a new way to engage with the people who visit your premises.

What is the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS)?

In November 2022, Ireland launched the national Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) as a way to improve Ireland’s participation in recycling and in particular bottle recycling – aiming to ensure the separate collection of 90% of plastic beverage bottles on the market by 2025.

The scheme covers PET bottles and aluminium and steel cans with a volume between 150ml and 3 litres, and has the following requirements:

  • 500ml or less: 15c deposit
  • 500ml or greater: 25c deposit

These deposits are added to the cost and then refunded to the consumer when the packaging is recycled. The refund management program is operated by Re-turn and businesses must register with them to take part in the scheme.

The benefits aren’t just for the better waste management and reinforcing desirable consumer behaviours. Retailers also benefit from registering for the scheme and for choosing to participate in the scheme with a reverse vending machine rather than processing returns manually. These come in the form of handling fees of €0.022 per container when you use a reverse vending machine as well as financial support in the form of three annual lump sums.

You get:

  • €3,000 in year 1
  • €2,000 in year 2
  • €1,000 in year 3

To qualify for this benefit, you need to prove that you sell 450,000 ‘in-scope’ containers on an annual basis or have annual returns of less than 360,000 containers.

If you’d like to learn more about participating in the scheme or filing for an exemption, get in touch with Re-turn.

Why Choose a Reverse Vending Machine?

Although the focus of the program is on retailers selling bottles, the application isn’t limited to supermarkets. Retailers of all types as well as community groups have been getting involved in the deposit return scheme because of the benefits that come with the scheme.

You can participate in the deposit return scheme by sorting returns by hand or by choosing the reverse vending machine route.

At its core, the reverse vending machine is a simple method of recycling plastic bottles and metal cans. While you might already use a recycling baler to do this job for you, and there’s still a place for waste balers on your premises, using a reverse vending machine can be of much more benefit to your business because it’s consumer facing.

Choosing a reverse vending machine can also help you:

  • Drive footfall into your premises with a stronger community recycling program
  • Improve the customer experience of the deposit return program and reinforce positive behaviours
  • Demonstrate your commitment to sustainability (which is very important to Irish consumers)
  • Reduce waste and beautify your local community
  • Protect Ireland’s waterways from plastics and recycling waste
  • Re-invest in community projects with the funds received for every returned bottle and can
  • Advertise your business through machine wraps and digital screens
  • And with the scheme’s support payments, you’ll find the acquisition cost is very reasonable

Work with LSM to Start Your Reverse Vending Machine Program

LSM is a chosen provider of EcoVend reverse vending machines in Ireland, and our expert advice makes it easy for you to set up your program.

For our customers operating premises in both Ireland and Northern Ireland, our machines are compatible with both the UK deposit return schemes and the DRS Standards in Ireland. Additionally, we provide a one year warranty and offer a routine maintenance agreement as well as fully maintained rental options – and with our central location in Portlaoise, you’re never far away from a machine service when it’s needed.

To learn more about reverse vending machines and waste balers to streamline your recycling program, get in touch to request a call back.

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