In these Spanish supermarkets, you get a deposit for your empty plastic bottles

by Lorraine Williamson
deposit system

Recycling is becoming increasingly important for environmental conservation. Plastic pollution is alarming and affects not only the health of our ecosystems, but also that of humans. Deposits on plastic bottles can contribute to plastic pollution by rewarding consumers.

In Spain, deposits have not yet been implemented in all cities and not in all supermarkets. But as more regions and businesses join this trend, it could mean a greater positive impact on the environment. And increase society’s ecological awareness. In addition, it provides financial benefits.

The first bottle vending machine in Spain

Since 2018, the Spar supermarket chain has set a precedent by installing the first ‘bottle vending machine’ in the Canary Islands. This was followed by several other branches in the region.

In Gran Canaria, El Tablero and La Ballena have implemented these vending machines, which offer consumers the chance to recycle their plastic and aluminium packaging in exchange for payment. In Tenerife, four La Hucha supermarkets introduced these vending machines in 2019, giving a fee of three cents for each bottle returned. This fee can be redeemed for products from the supermarket itself, encouraging customers to recycle more consciously and actively.

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Supermarkets that pay a deposit

In addition to the Canary Islands, there are other regions that have adopted this environmentally friendly solution. Cities such as Zaragoza, La Rioja, Vizcaya, Asturias, Pontevedra, Toledo, Catalonia, Murcia, Jaén, Seville and Cádiz also offer the possibility of recycling packaging in exchange for rewards. This nationwide expansion reflects a growing environmental awareness. And it recognises the importance of encouraging people to participate in sustainable acts.

Deposit return in Europe

The recycling initiative through the bottle vending machines is not limited to regional supermarkets in Spain. Major European chains such as Lidl and Aldi also use these vending machines in their stores, especially in countries such as Ireland. In the case of Lidl, the fee for each recycled packaging is 10 cents, with a maximum of €2 per transaction. This approach not only promotes recycling among customers, but also reinforces the image of these chains as socially responsible companies committed to sustainability.

Benefits of ‘reverse recycling’

The reverse recycling model offers several advantages. First, it significantly reduces the amount of plastic and aluminium waste (cans) that end up in landfills or, worse, in our oceans. Second, it fosters a culture of recycling and sustainability among consumers. As a result, they are more aware of the impact of their consumption habits. In addition, by offering rewards, these programs increase customer loyalty toward stores that adopt these practices. This creates a positive link between responsible consumption and tangible benefits.

Also read: Basque Country introduces deposit scheme in major supermarkets

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