Twenty five schools in Windsor and Maidenhead helped recycle 160,000 plastic bottles as part of a pilot project to help meet the UK's recycling challenges.

A recycling model was piloted for a year at 25 primary and secondary schools in the area, involving 12,000 pupils.

The scheme was started by Greenredeem, which works with councils, brands, manufacturers and retailers to try and create "sustained behaviour change".

Greenredeem trialled interactive recycling kiosks alongside education activities across the 25 schools between January and December 2019.

During that year, 160,000 plastic bottles were recycled - weighing a combined total of five tonnes.

Pupils could scan and deposit plastic drinks bottles while engaging with videos, images and facts about recycling and the environment, which were displayed on each kiosk.

Students were also engaged through tailored lesson plans, developed with Plastic Oceans UK, to help them understand how to responsibly consume and dispose of plastics.

Every bottle deposited earned 5p for the school - to be spent on further educational initiatives.

By offering educational and financial benefits and using the kiosks to create a focal point for engagement, the model helped to improve recycling quality and capture rates, reduced littering and contributed to a circular economy – while keeping all recycled plastic in the UK.

Plastic drinks containers were sourced at school, from home, events, and litter picks. As part of the process, recycled bottles were collected from the kiosks each week, which was then used to create new plastic bottles.

Greenredeem ran the pilot to inform Defra’s plans around the potential roll-out of a deposit return scheme (DRS) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland from 2023.

Greenredeem is now calling for Defra to invest in convenient recycling solutions that create sustained behaviour change by appealing to people’s priorities, rather than focusing solely on rolling out a DRS in the UK.

Jane Wardle, business manager at Wessex Primary School in Maidenhead, said: “By encouraging everyone to get involved with simple and effective practices and incentives, this scheme helped to not only raise awareness of responsible recycling of plastic bottles, but also earned money for schools.

"We’re thrilled with the community effort that was achieved.”