Over 80% of people say they would use reverse vending machines : Veolia and LEON pilot deposit return scheme to solve on the go recycling

Veolia LEOn reverse vending recycling london kings cross
© Veolia

Veolia has teamed up with health concious fast food chain LEON to deploy a reverse vending machine designed to accept plastic bottles and aluminium at King’s Cross in central London.

Backed by research which shows 81% of people would go out their way to deposit a bottle or can, the pilot will operate for six months to encourage people to recycle while on the go. Any bottle returned will receive a voucher worth 10% off the bill at the nearest LEON restaurant.

Britain fails to recycle 40% of plastic bottles because they aren’t placed in the right bins - that’s over 240,000 tonnes of bottles not reaching recycling centres every year. This pilot has been designed around consumers to target the disposable drinks containers most commonly discarded on the go - bottles under 750ml as well as aluminium cans in order to make it easy for people to recycle, reduce littering and enable more materials to be salvaged.

Richard Kirkman, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, Veolia UK & Ireland said:

“A UK-wide deposit return scheme is imperative if we want to round up the millions of stray plastic bottles and cans we as a country are not recycling.

This pilot Veolia is conducting with LEON is the yardstick for on the go recycling. Located in a high footfall area and targeting the drinks containers most commonly misplaced - plastic bottles up to 750ml and aluminium cans - the machine offers an alternative to carrying recyclable items home or discarding as litter.

Our research shows people are motivated to recycle, they care about the environment and the vast majority are poised to use a machine like ours when a reasonable walk away.

“Veolia will collect and process the machine’s contents, ultimately transporting the bottles and cans to be recycled into new products. We hope as the pilot unfolds, it proves the importance of recycling on the go as well as the need for appropriate infrastructure to facilitate it.”

John Vincent, CEO & Co-Founder of LEON, said:

"At LEON we've been committed to being the most sustainable business we can be since we opened our first restaurant in 2004. Through our Planet LOVe programme launched in 2019, we will carry on investing in new ways to reduce single use plastics and find better recycling solutions because, put simply, the planet needs us to.

“We're really excited about this partnership with Veolia because we know that, as an industry, we need to push for the right facilities and infrastructure to ensure better recycling and reuse - this is a great step forward. And we can’t wait to welcome all the recycling warriors into our restaurants and reward their efforts with a little thank you from us.”

Steven Kellett, Sustainability Manager at King’s Cross Central Limited partnership (KCCLP) commented:

“We want King’s Cross to continue to be an exemplar of sustainable development and we see the way in which waste is managed as a key part of this. We are proud that we don’t send any waste to landfill but we want to improve the amount of plastic waste that gets recycled from public areas and ultimately eliminate single use plastics.

“This is why we are delighted to be involved in this new initiative in partnership with Veolia and LEON which we hope will further increase the amount of waste that is recycled on site, and help King’s Cross become an even greener place to work, live and play.”

The reverse vending machine is located under West Handyside Canopy, adjacent to Granary Square in King’s Cross. Depositing a plastic bottle (up to 750ml) or an aluminium can in the machine will entitle you to a voucher worth 10% off the bill at the LEON in St Pancras Square a few minutes walk away. One voucher is redeemable per purchase.