Are There Reverse Vending Machines in the UK?

If you have been following our blog, then you may have read about Germany’s deposit return scheme. Pfand – which simply means “deposit” in German – is an innovative bottle return system that has received a great deal of praise since its implementation. So much so, in fact, that the UK wants to follow in its footsteps. Unfortunately, our deposit return scheme plans have been delayed, meaning we probably won’t see them implemented until sometime during 2024.

That being said, you can still find some reverse vending machines in supermarkets dotted throughout the UK, just not as many as we need!

Reverse vending machine glass bottles


What is a reverse vending machine?

Reverse vending machines, also known as RVMs, are innovative little recycling machines that act as collection points for customers to return their empty plastic bottles and containers. However, you can’t simply drop anything in there, the machine will only accept containers or materials that it’s been programmed to.

Once the user has finished recycling their items, the machine will then provide them with a reward, which is usually a redeemable voucher for the supermarket they’re in, or alternatively they could choose to donate to charity.

To give you a clearer idea of how an RVM works, let’s break it down into steps:

  1. The bottle/container is inserted by the user into the machine
  2. The machine scans the item to ensure that it is suitable for recycling
  3. Once the scan is complete, the bottle is crushed by the machine in order to reduce the volume and destroy the barcode in the process
  4. When the process is complete, the user receives their reward


Where are the reverse vending machines in the UK?

While we don’t yet have a nationwide deposit return scheme, you can still find some reverse vending machines dotted around the country thanks to local supermarkets taking it upon themselves to have them installed.

Here’s a list of some of those locations:

  • Canary Wharf: As part of its Breaking the Plastic Habit campaign, Canary Wharf has implemented its own DRS in Canada Place where visitors can recycle their single-use plastic items. This is the first publicly accessible DRS of its kind in the UK.
  • Iceland Foods: Following the government’s announcement of a deposit return scheme in 2018, Iceland was actually the first supermarket to act on this by installing reverse vending machines in a couple of stores across the UK. You can find them in Musselburgh and Fulham.
  • Morrisons: Morrisons quickly followed suit and installed two RVMs of their own in Skipton (Yorkshire, England) and Lindsayfield (East Kilbride, Scotland). Recyclers who use these machines can bag themselves more Morrisons points, so if you’re local to either, make the most of them!
  • Tesco: Tesco also have their own RVM installed in Borehamwood, England. It provides the user with the option to claim points or to donate to charity if they’d prefer.

Of course, there are a few other RVMs dotted around the UK that have been installed for both public and private use, but hopefully in a few years time, each and every one of us will have the option to use them locally.


Brown Recycling is one of Stoke’s leading waste management companies. Whether you need a skip for a garden project or your business requires ongoing trade waste collections, we always provide a top-tier service that you can rely on. For more information, or for a free, no-obligation quote, all you have to do is give us a call.


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