DRS made easy for local retailers

Envipco Flex DRS machine

In the first of a three-part series of articles examining Scotland’s forthcoming Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) legislation, SLR is working with leading international reverse vending machine manufacturer Envipco to find out how retailers can ensure they are ready to capitalise when the scheme kicks off next year.


The introduction of a new Deposit Return Scheme in Scotland next year is something that will affect all local retailers in the country. While 2020 may still seem like a long way in the distance, the time to begin preparing for the new scheme is now.

That’s why SLR is working with leading international reverse vending machine (RVM) manufacturer Envipco to explain all that retailers need to know about what a DRS scheme is, how it works, why it’s being implemented and, most importantly, what retailers need to do in order to be prepared when the new legislation comes into force.

For nearly four decades, Envipco has been working with partners across the globe to deliver tailormade DRS solutions. It legacy of success is a result of a future-facing approach and passion to move forward. From the state-of-the-art bulk feed technology of the Quantum RVM to Flex, the most versatile small RVM on the market, it has set the benchmark for recycling technology.

Envipco’s approach mirrors the needs of their customers by providing customised solutions for any size of enterprise. From single small machine solutions to the scalable range of services needed to create change on a national level, Envipco delivers.

Envipco: a fact file
  • Envipco is a leading global reverse vending machine (RVM) manufacturer with four decades of experience designing and operating packaging recycling solutions.
  • The company is headquartered in the USA with a research and development hub in Germany.
  • Envipco has a highly-experienced management team in the USA and Europe, and currently operates RVMs in Sweden, the USA, Australia, Greece, and France.
  • Envipco offers a flexible range of RVM technology which is site-specific, including a compact Flex machine for settings with a low volume of containers and small footprint right through to breakthrough bulk feed technology for high-volume locations.
  • Envipco’s Scottish Operations Centre with local sales and service support will open in late spring 2019.
  • Visit envipco.scot to find out more.

What is a DRS?

So, first things first. What exactly is a Deposit Return Scheme? Well, in its simplest terms, a DRS will introduce a deposit on drinks containers paid by the consumer. Your shoppers will receive cash for returning their ‘empties’ for recycling. The scheme will aim to increase recycling rates and reduce littering with countries that have introduced similar schemes – such as Sweden, Norway, and Germany – having been extremely successful in achieving high recycling rates and cleaner environments.

While the legislation is likely to allow local retailers to manually recycle drinks containers, in reality this will be a highly unattractive option. Given concerns over hygiene, accidents, space and a range of other obvious problems with collecting containers by hand over the counter, a far more efficient and effective solution is to use an RVM. These purpose-built machines handle the entire process with very little input required from the retailer. Shoppers simply deposit their containers into the RVM and are automatically issued with a deposit voucher which they can redeem in-store against their next purchase.

The principle is very straightforward but the best way to test how it works in reality is, of course, by installing an RVM in a real, live store. That’s precisely why Envipco decided to work with the Scottish Grocers Federation (SGF) to install RVMs in three test stores in Central Scotland.

The participating stores are:

  • Premier Broadway, Edinburgh
  • Keystore Moredun, Edinburgh
  • Nisa Local and Post Office, Bellshill

From mid-February through to April this year, customers at the three stores receive 10p for every empty plastic bottle or can deposited into Envipco’s on-site Flex machines. Recycling company Viridor is supporting the trials through the collection and recycling of the empty containers deposited into RVMs at the three stores.

Envipco’s Flex machine was carefully chosen as the most appropriate, as it is the smallest footprint RVM with compaction technology on the global market, an important factor for local retailers for whom floor space is critical.

Measuring just 60cm wide, the Flex machine flattens empty bottles and cans, allowing for storage of up to 600 cans and 300 plastic bottles.

Bob Lincoln, President of Envipco, commented: “Envipco is very excited to be supporting the Scottish Grocers Federation store trials of our reverse vending machines. We know the importance of convenience stores to the retail sector in Scotland and we will do all that we can to support grocers managing the implementation of the deposit return scheme, with the end goal of increasing recycling rates and reducing littering.”

For SGF, trials are an important opportunity to both learn how the retail sector can adapt to the scheme and understand how their consumers will respond to the technology. John Lee, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at SGF, said: “These trials will give us invaluable learning and insight into deposit return, particularly how shop staff and customers respond to having a RVM sited in-store.

“This learning will ultimately help us develop and implement a system which is effective for retailers, consumers, and communities.”

Abdul Majid, owner of Nisa Local Bellshill, said: “We are delighted to be one of the stores involved in this ground-breaking trial. We believe that Scotland’s local retailers have a responsibility to the communities they serve to reduce their impact on the environment and the DRS scheme will help us achieve that. This will help local people to recycle, reduce litter and improve the local environment.”

Over the next couple of months we will be finding out more about the process of installing an RVM and how the machines have been performing in the test stores.

The Flex RVM: fact file

While Envipco offers a range of RVMs for all sizes of stores, the super-compact Flex is perfect for stores with limited floor space available.

  • Measuring just 60cm wide, the Flex machine flattens empty bottles and cans, allowing for storage of up to 600 cans and 300 plastic bottles.
  • The unit can process up to 40 cans or PET containers per minute and can accept plastic bottles up to 3l in size and cans up to 1l.
  • Plug and play – easy to use, clean and service.
  • Customisable wrap, comprehensive digital marketing options, customised list of container barcodes accepted.
  • Scratch-proofing and simplified servicing procedures ensure that the Flex remains attractive to customers while being easy to maintain. Easy installation as a stand-alone or fitted unit.
  • Envipco’s Flex RVM is designed exclusively for small store formats, an important factor for local retailers for whom floor space is critical.
  • The Flex is a simple, low cost option that is ideal for Scotland’s local retailers.