DRS? RVM? SUP? What is with all these acronyms?

Reverse Vending, Team ACM

In the modern world we are bombarded with acronyms. The government’s 2018 25 year environment plan spearheaded by Michael Gove is no exception. One that has caught my eye is the plan to bring in a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS – there’s the first acronym explained) to the UK. In simple terms, the plan is to copy highly effective schemes found across Europe whereby the consumer will pay a premium when they purchase a single use beverage container (plastic bottle or can) which they will then get back when they return the container for recycling. The most likely way this will be done is via a Reverse Vending Machine (RVM – there’s number two). When this scheme was started in Lithuania, they achieved a 93% return rate in just three years, which is a very impressive figure.

The idea behind the DRS is to provide an incentive and a closed loop recycling solution for problem Single Use Plastics (SUP – full house!). We have a problem when it comes to plastics – in fact we have a massive problem. We use 13 BILLION single use plastic bottles, just in the UK. The excessive consumption that drives this is of course the problem but is a societal issue and one that is only resolved over time with a change of mindset from the majority of the public. In the mean time, we have 13 billion problems. The frustrating part is that these bottles are perfectly recyclable but the issue is around capturing these bottles for recycling. Once in the right place, the bottles are a valuable commodity but relying on domestic, commercial and public recycling schemes as we do currently only captures around 7 billion of the bottles, meaning that there are 6 billion that are not recycled. These numbers are scary and remember are only for the UK.

It is hoped that following the lead that many of our European neighbours have been taking for a long time, will increase the capture rate of the plastic bottles (and cans). By capturing them through a RVM, we are also ensuring that the materials are of very high quality, something that the recycling re-processors are always talking about as being the key for them to be able to sustainably recycle materials.

The timescale for the launch of this country wide is to be confirmed and is likely subject to a trial in Scotland sometime in 2020/21. However, there is a massive opportunity for commercial organisations and others to steel a march and introduce RVMs and associated reward schemes.

ACM launched our EcoVend range of RVM machines last year and became the first to install one in a public environment in Letchworth Garden City centre. We have linked with the local Business Improvement District (BID – I do love an acronym) to bring local retailers on board who offer a discount in their shops to people with a voucher from the RVM. We are now looking at opportunities to install machines in railway stations, shopping centres, hospitals, leisure centres and a long list of other locations. There is a real clamour and desire to be ahead of the curve and be well established in using RVMs before the government, UK wide DRS scheme comes into play down the line.

Our machines are designed to take a leap forward in RVM technology to make the machines engaging, easy to use and importantly ensure that the quality of the material captured is kept as high as possible. We have developed several unique features on the machines to assist in this.

For more information on the EcoVend range please visit

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