Aberdeen Royal Infirmary is set to be the first in the UK to host a “reverse vending machine”.
NHS Grampian is gearing up to undertake a trial of the technology, in advance of the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) which will launch across Scotland later this year.
Under the scheme, all buildings which include retail catering outlets must either house a reverse vending machine or be part of a local network for the collection of plastic and glass bottles, and drinks cans.
During the trial, anyone can come to the machine, which is situated next to the ATMs and WHSmith at the main hospital entrance, and deposit bottles and cans.
In return, they will receive a voucher worth 5p per item, up to the value of £2.50, to be spent in the Aroma Cairngorm café.
When the DRS comes into effect, the refund will be 20p per item and people will be able to choose between a voucher or a cash alternative.
“I am delighted ARI is hosting this trial and it’s my hope it will reduce litter on site and promote recycling,” said Neil Duncan, waste management officer at NHS Grampian.
“NHS Grampian is committed to being a sustainable organisation as part of the Plan for the Future; this trial is us putting our words into action.
“Under the terms of the DRS, we will have to plan to either install machines or join a local network at Woodend, Dr Gray’s Hospital, and Royal Cornhill Hospital.
“This trial will help us decide on the best course of action. We will also be sharing our experience with colleagues at other health boards across Scotland.”
Neil added: “Anyone can use this machine to deposit their bottles and cans; they do not have to be a staff member, patient, or visitor, though we expect most deposits will be made by them.
“Any empty bottle or can may be deposited in the machine except for plastic milk bottles. They are a different type of plastic and must not be placed in the machine.
“Bottles or cans should not be crushed or crumpled; the machine will compact them after deposit.”
Derick Murray, non-executive board member, said: “As the board’s Sustainability Champion, I am really pleased to see ARI leading the way with this trial.
“We want to support change in the community, as well as within our own organisation, and this is a great example of that. I’m looking forward to seeing how this pilot develops.”
The reverse vending machine is provided by TOMRA. John Lee, TOMRA’s vice president for public affairs in the UK and Ireland, said: “We are delighted to be involved in this highly innovative project.
“NHS Grampian is to be congratulated for taking the lead on this, giving hospital staff, patients and visitors the opportunity to reduce litter and boost recycling.
“tNHS hospitals could play a key role in the success of deposit return once the scheme goes live. This project is paving the way for that success, showing how easy it is for everyone to play their part in it.”