The Co-op is set to become the first company to launch a trial “deposit return scheme” at festivals across the country this summer.
As part of its drive to cut marine pollution, the grocer will roll out reverse vending machines at six festivals.
The vending machines will allow festival-goers to return plastic bottles bought from various Co-op pop-up stores around the site, which will have a mandatory deposit added to the price. They will then receive vouchers which can be spent in on-site stores.
Bottles returned at Download, Leicestershire, Latitude, Reading, Suffolk and Leeds festivals will be recycled to create Co-op branded bottled water.
In March, the government announced it was set to launch the deposit return scheme, encouraging retailers across the country to impose a variable tax and return capabilities across their estates.
Co-op and Iceland were the first retailers to sign up to the scheme back in November last year, but other retailers including Tesco.
“As the UK’s leading ethical retailer there’s nowhere better for us to start our trial of reverse vending machines than at some of the UK’s most well-loved festivals,” Co-op retail chief executive Jo Whitfield said.
“Reducing the amount of plastic that makes its way to landfill is really important to us and our members.
“We’re committed to giving our customers ways to make more ethical choices, so this is a hugely exciting milestone in our sustainability journey to achieve our future aim of making all of our food packaging 100 per cent recyclable.”
Sixty of the UK’s largest music festivals have pledged to ban the use of plastic straws, with even more committing to eliminating all single use plastics by 2021.
The Festival Republic’s managing director Melvin Benn said: “We welcome over 350,000 revellers across these four iconic festival sites.
“It’s absolutely fantastic to think that they will be amongst the first people in the UK to have the opportunity to recycle their plastic bottles simply and easily using the reverse vending machine, in addition to the existing deposit return schemes at the festivals.”