A NEW bottle recycling scheme is being rolled out at Sainsbury’s to give Scots money off their shopping in return for helping the environment.

The supermarket giant is trialling its reverse vending recycling initiative at its Braehead store in Glasgow – making it only the third store in the UK to offer the service.

Customers can deposit plastic bottles and aluminium drinks cans in a machine in exchange for a coupon worth 5p per item towards their shopping.

Up to 500 items can be deposited per visit, which means shoppers could save up to £25.

READ MORE: Sainsbury's boss says retailer sees way ahead after Asda setback 

Judith Batchelar, director of Sainsbury’s Brand, said: “We’re delighted to offer a new way to help our customers recycle while saving on their shop.”

It comes after the Scottish Government revealed plans to add a refundable deposit of 20p to the cost of cans, plastic drinks containers and glass bottles in Scotland.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said the scheme would be up and running with two years, making Scotland the first part of the UK to introduce such a measure.

It is hoped it will lead to an extra 140,000 empty cans and bottles being recycled every day.

Research by Zero Waste Scotland has calculated that Scots are spending £640 million a year buying and disposing of single-use plastic packaging.

Sainsbury’s recently announced it would remove plastic bags for loose fruit, vegetables and bakery items from all stores.

Its latest initiative at Braehead will allow customers to deposit plastic bottles of any size up to three litres and aluminium drinks cans in a machine at the store entrance, in exchange for a coupon.

The scheme launched last month at stores in Lincoln and Hull, and has been welcomed by environmental campaigners.

READ MORE: Scottish renewable energy firms exporting to more than 70 countries 

However, WWF Scotland director Lang Banks warned such moves were only “half the battle”.

He said: “Our seas and wildlife are filling up with plastic and other packaging waste, so it’s good to see Sainsbury’s encouraging people to recycle by rewarding customers using reverse vending machines.

“When Scotland eventually rolls out its deposit-return scheme, to help recycle cans and bottles, these types of machines are going to become a lot more common in every supermarket and high street.

“However, recycling is only half the battle. We urgently need to see steps by manufacturers and retailers to reduce the total amounts of single-use plastic and packaging produced in the first place.”

Earlier this year, Sainsbury’s pledged to end the use of dark-coloured plastics, which are difficult to recycle, across its fresh foods by the end of 2019 and entirely by March 2020.

It also said it would remove all plastic packaging from Christmas crackers this year.

Over the next 12 months, the supermarket giant has vowed to remove a further 1280 tonnes of plastic from products and ensure all plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

John Mayhew, director of the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland, which is running a campaign for a deposit return scheme called Have You Got The Bottle?, welcomed the latest measure at Braehead.

He said: “It’s great to see retailers getting on and familiarising their customers with this technology in readiness for the Scotland-wide scheme starting in 2021.

“We hope the supermarkets will now be urging the UK Government to act quickly and follow Scotland’s lead: a consistent UK-wide system would be clearer for the public and also save businesses money too.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declared a “climate emergency” at the SNP’s spring conference earlier this year, and has since committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2045.