DRS: a retailer’s perspective

Envipco Flex machine

In the second of a new three-part series of forthcoming Deposit Return Scheme articles with reverse vending machine manufacturer Envipco, we speak to some Scottish retailers who are currently trialling Envipco machines to find out how their experiences have been in-store.


As the introduction of a new Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in Scotland next year draws ever closer, SLR is working with leading international reverse vending machine (RVM) manufacturer Envipco to help demystify what can seem like a complex and daunting challenge for Scotland’s local retailers.

Envipco has been delivering tailormade DRS solutions across the globe for nearly four decades and has recently demonstrated its commitment to Scotland with the opening of a new permanent site in Edinburgh, headed up by new Scottish Operations Manager Barry Stewart. A native of Edinburgh, Stewart joins Envipco with extensive operational leadership experience in waste management, recycling, sales, civil work, and construction project management.

Stewart will be working alongside new UK Managing Director Spencer Roberts. With an engineering background and more than 20 years’ experience in retail across a variety of channels, Roberts will now, with the aid of Stewart, lead Envipco’s drive into the local retailing sector in Scotland.

Roberts told SLR: “This is a massive and genuinely exciting challenge for us, not least because I believe DRS and Envipco can play important roles in supporting the transformation towards a circular economy in Scotland. Envipco has been working with partners across the globe for almost 40 years to deliver efficient, effective DRS solutions and we intend to bring all that experience and knowledge to our work in Scotland.

“As an engineer, it gives me pride to say that the company’s success has been the result of a future-facing approach and a sustained commitment to research and development. It’s this commitment that delivered our Flex machine, the most versatile small RVM on the market. It has set the benchmark for recycling technology for smaller stores and reflects our passion for providing customised solutions for any size of enterprise.”

Flex on trial

As part of Envipco’s commitment to understanding the specific needs of the Scottish local retailing sector, it recently installed its compact Flex machines in a three store trial, across central Scotland in order to gain real-world feedback from both retailers and customers about how the Flex was performing in a live store environment.

Abdul Majid of Nisa Bellshill was among those testing the machine and told SLR that it has been a fantastic addition to the store.

He says: “It’s only when you get an RVM into your store that you can really start to gain an understanding of how it works, how customers respond to it and how staff find it. I’m delighted to say that our Flex machine from Envipco has been a fantastic addition to the store in a number of ways.

“The real beauty of the solution is that it’s so compact. It doesn’t take up much space on the shop floor at all – and that was a real concern before we started the trial. Floorspace is obviously at a premium so the fact that it’s so neat is great news and we’ve been able to site it right at the front of the shop, next to the news stand, and on the way to the soft drinks fixture. That means everyone sees it and I think that has contributed to our customers getting used to using very quickly.”

Abdul also appreciated the fact that the machine is essentially plug and play. He explains: “All you really have to do is site it then plug it in, it’s that simple. It’s also linked via wifi to Envipco so they can pull all the data they require without having to ask us for any input.”

The system is also very simple for customers to use, says Abdul: “It’s completely intuitive for shoppers as all they have to do is insert the bottle or can into the machine and it automatically scans the barcode. In the store we offer either a 10p voucher per container that can be redeemed against purchases in the shop or they can choose to donate the money to charity.”

The charity chosen by Abdul is his beloved St Andrew’s Hospice and he is delighted that over £1,000 has already been raised with the Flex machine. Abdul even vowed to his customers to match the figure raised so he expects to be handing over a very sizeable cheque to St Andrew’s Hospice in the very near future.

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 June in Newbridge, Edinburgh.
  • Visit envipco.scot to find out more.

Another retailer who has a hugely positive experience with the Flex is Edinburgh Premier retailer Dennis Williams. He says: “The machine couldn’t have been easier to install, run and maintain. It was up and running within half an hour of arriving at the shop, it was easy for customers to use and it’s easy for staff to empty.”

As in Abdul’s store, Dennis has his recycled containers collected regularly by Viridor, on average twice a week. “We empty the RVM regularly then store the containers in a bin outside the store,” he says. “When it’s full we contact Viridor and they collect it next day. It’s simple and efficient.”

Dennis also offers shoppers 10p per container that can be spent in the store or they can donate the cash to a local good cause, in this case the local Pentland Primary School. “The response from the school and from parents and children has been overwhelming,” he says. “We always had a strong relationship with the school but this has helped reinforce it once more and I think it’s important that the kids, who are our next generation of shoppers, understand that we take our sustainability responsibilities seriously.”

For Envipco’s UK MD Spencer Roberts, it’s music to his ears. “We take our commitment to our customers very seriously and we try to produce the very best solutions we can for their specific needs, so it’s wonderful to hear the positive experiences that Abdul and Dennis have had with the Flex machine. We believe the Flex with its ultra-compact footprint will be ideal for the majority of Scotland’s local retailers.”

To find out more visit envipco.scot, email enquiries@envipco.scot or call 0131 241 1118.

The Flex RVM

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.
  • 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.

In next month’s issue we will be revealing the results of the trials in all participating stores.

This article is the second in a three-part series:

  1. DRS made easy for local retailers
  2. DRS: a retailer’s perspective
  3. Coming in June