Supermarket trials 'it pays to recycle' machine in Belfast store
Frozen food retailer Iceland has said a new vending machine in one of its Belfast stores, which rewards customers for recycling plastic bottles, is a first for Northern Ireland.
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The supermarket chain has announced a six month trial in its Park Centre outlet in the west of the city.
Iceland has already trialled the scheme across four sites in Britain, with over 310,000 plastic bottles recycled in a six month period, paying customers a combined £30,000.
The reverse vending machine rewards customers with coupons for the store, at a rate of 10p per bottle.
The retailer said an average of 2,583 bottles were recycled each day of its six month trial of the scheme in Great Britain.
The venture comes as new Government figures showed that Belfast has the worst recycling rate among Northern Ireland's 11 district council areas.
New analysis from the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), showed that the average rate for waste being sent for reuse, recycling and composting across the 11 council areas was 51.8% for the third quarter of 2018.
That represented an improvement from the 51.2% recycling rate recorded across Northern Ireland for the same period in 2017. Belfast City Council was at the bottom of the table, recording a rate of 45.3%, with Antrim and Newtownabbey recording the highest (58.8%).
The 256,157 tonnes of waste collected across Northern Ireland over July to September was almost 4,000 tonnes (1.5%) down on the same period during 2017.
More energy is also being recovered from waste, with the rate rising from 18.6% to 19.7%.
DAERA said Belfast households produced an average of 107kg of waste per person during the three months between July and September 2018, the lowest in Northern Ireland.
That compared with 149kg per head in Antrim and Newtownabbey.
But as Northern Ireland's most populated district, Belfast is still producing twice as much waste than everywhere else.
Iceland managing director Richard Walker said that based on the experience of the trials conducted in Wolverhampton, Mold, Fulham, Musselburgh and its head office in Deeside, the new vending machines could inspire an improved attitude to recycling in Belfast. He said Iceland will share the results of its Belfast trial with DAERA and all 11 district councils.
"The overwhelming consumer support we have received in response to our reverse vending machine trial clearly demonstrates consumer appetite for improved in-store recycling, and deposit return schemes.
"We have expanded our trial to NI to ensure our trial is as robust as possible and is representative of customers from across all of the UK.
"The findings will inform future Iceland initiatives and planned roll-outs of recycling schemes, empowering retailers and consumers to tackle the scourge of plastics, head on."