Deposit return scheme – an answer to plastic pollution?

We know that plastic bottles and drinks containers have a significant impact on the environment.

In the UK alone, consumers go through an estimated 13bn plastic drinks bottles a year, but more than 3bn are incinerated, sent to landfill or left to pollute streets, countryside and beaches.

The UK government has confirmed that later this year (subject to consultation) it will introduce a deposit return scheme in England for single use drinks containers (plastic, glass or metal).  The consultation will look at the details of how it would work, alongside other measures to increase recycling rates.

Deposit return schemes aren’t new; a similar scheme, already operating in Germany, sees consumers paying an up-front deposit when they buy a drink (22p), which is redeemed on return of the empty drink container.

“Reverse vending machines” are used, where the consumer inserts the bottle and the machine returns your money. Once the bottles are returned, the business is then responsible for making sure they are effectively recycled.  This has been incredibly successful in Germany with the recycling rate increasing to 97%.

This return scheme could increase the UK’s recycling rates and go towards slashing the amount of plastic waste that is wreaking havoc with our environment.  But it needs to happen soon.

The coffee cup challenge

The numbers are huge: 2.5bn single-use cups are thrown away every year across the UK; currently we only recycle one in every 400.

There are numerous companies working tirelessly to solve the throw-away coffee cup challenge, but we need the recycling collection infrastructure to be far better.

The two main challenges to overcome are: firstly, there is the plastic waterproof lining that must be removed from the cups. Then the cups must not be too badly soiled by food waste (collecting the cups as soon as the consumer has finished their drink minimises contamination).

A joined-up approach is needed.  If the recycling companies can work together with local councils, coffee sellers and the waste management sector to improve segregation of the cups and develop a comprehensive collection infrastructure, we can make a huge difference.

Every day in the UK, one in five of us visit a coffee shop for our must have “hot beverage on the go”.  We, the consumer, need educating to “do the right thing” once we have enjoyed that drink, but we need convincing that the cup we hold in our hand can be and is, recycled.

CQUIN – how Thirst Link is helping the NHS

What is CQUIN?  It stands for Commissioning for Quality & Innovation and Thirst Link is currently helping a growing number of NHS hospitals to meet the challenge of satisfying the mandatory CQUIN for staff health and wellbeing, and so enable them to access their share of the CQUIN incentive fund.


The staff health and wellbeing CQUIN requires the provision of a healthy hot food service for doctors and nurses outside of conventional catering hours, particularly night shifts and weekends. Thirst Link worked alongside Bon Appetit, an expert provider for automated hot food catering, to provide 24/7 hot food vending, with over 50% of their selections being “healthier choices”.

Bon Appetit now serve over 50 hospitals, including the Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton, Somerset – a typical hospital site, spread out over a wide area – which now has a staff catering solution that fits the bill.

What is the “soft drinks tax”?

From April 2018, a “soft drinks tax” comes into force in the UK.

Soft drinks manufacturers and importers will be required to pay a tax based on the added sugar content of the beverage:

0-5g per 100ml (0p per litre)

5-8g per 100ml (18p per litre)

8g+ per 100m (24p per litre)

Those items included are soft drinks with added sugar and alcoholic drinks with an alcohol volume of up to 1.2%. Items not included are soft drinks with no added sugar, pure fruit juice and soft drinks with 75% milk content.

The introduction of this tax is aimed at reducing the rate of obesity in the UK which is showing a worrying upward trend. The percentage of obese adults in 1993 was 14.9% (1 in 6) and rose to 26.9% in 2014, (1 in 4).

However, The McKinsey Global Institute listed “portion control” and “reformulation” as the two interventions which could have the greatest impact on obesity, in comparison with the soft drinks tax which was listed in the bottom four interventions.

One of the biggest players, Coca-Cola, has stated that they are reformulating (reducing the sugar) in most of their  brands to ensure exemption from the soft drinks tax by April 2018, but they will not be reformulating their Coca-Cola Classic, which they say “represents 125 years of history”.

Caterers needed

We’ve heard of an excellent opportunity for caterers –

LiveWire (Warrington) CIC are currently looking for one or more experienced caterers to run its Catering locations. These services are located at Orford Jubilee Neighbourhood Hub and as part of the Great Sankey Neighbourhood Hub development – each is based around a catering kitchen and involves running a café, providing hot and cold food and drink options for service users and also providing buffets for conferences and events within each site. In addition Great Sankey Neighbourhood Hub will have a luxury spa which will also need catering for.

 The opportunity is being adveristed on LiveWire’s website

 Deadline for submissions is Thursday 9th November, 10.00am.


Micro Markets up for discussion at AVEX

The Automatic Vending Association (AVA) has recently announced one of its speakers at AVEX 2017.

John Chidiac, president of 365 International, will speak on the subject of the Micro Market industry, including the reasons why they are so popular in the US and why they continue to grow at such a fast pace. This is a hot topic of discussion for the vending industry and one that is sure to attract a lot of interest amongst visitors and exhibitors.

John will also discuss how Micro Markets are perceived by consumers and operators, sharing the positive financial impact on operators and explaining features and functionalities of the trend. As part of his talk, John will also conclude with a vision of the future for the market and new products and services to satisfy demand.

The AVEX exhibition will be held at the NEC, Birmingham on 12th-13th September 2017.

Queen’s Birthday Honours for Scottish businessman

Alastair Storey was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. Alastair is Chairman and CEO of Westbury Street Holdings (WSH), which he founded in 2000.

Storey joined P&O’s Sutcliffe Catering Services as a trainee manager in 1975, rising to managing director of Sutcliffe Catering South East. In 1993, Granada bought Sutcliffe, and then Forte in 1996, and Storey became managing director of the newly formed Granada Food Services division.

In 2000, he formed Wilson Storey with Keith Wilson, his former finance director, and after further mergers and acquisitions, Wilson Storey Halliday merged with BaxterSmith to become BaxterStorey in 2004.

WSH owns BaxterStorey, Portico, Caterlink, Holroyd Howe, Benugo and Searcys, and its headquarters, WSH International Investments Limited, is in Reading, Berkshire

Another big step for European vending giant

N&W Global Vending said it has acquired Italy’s Ducale Macchine da Caffé di Sandei Ugo & C.s.n.c., “to strengthen its competitive position in the coffee vending machine category”.

Ducale has been manufacturing equipment for the hospitality industry since the mid-1950s as a manufacturer of coffee machines for bars and restaurants, Its move into vending began in the 1960s with coffee machines and progressed into other full-line categories. N&W Global Vending is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of full-line vending machines.

The European vending giant has been owned by Dallas-based Lone Star Funds since April 2016. Subsequently, N&W has been rolling up coffee vending machine manufacturers, beginning last year with Italy’s Saeco Vending and most recently, they acquired a controlling stake in Canada’s Cafection Enterprises, signaling an aggressive move into the North American vending and OCS markets.


AI turns Lisa into Vicki

ViaTouch Media’s “smart-shelf” vending machine arrived in the States back in April called “Lisa”.  But not for long, as it’s now been renamed “Vicki”.  So what is “Vicki”?

Vicki stands for ViaTouch Intellishelf Cognitive Kinetic Interactions – wow!  The high-tech vender is equipped with smart shelves that “know” which products customers take, and also if they put any back. The items they retrieve appear on the machine’s display, along with corresponding prices. Customers are charged for their merchandise after the door closes.

Rather like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s intelligent personal assistant Alexa, Vicki can personally greet patrons; they can ask her questions, and she can answer them. If a customer asks Vicki which snacks in the machine are gluten-free or organic, for example, she will tell them. In addition, through visual AI, Vicki can turn off the lights for all products that don’t meet the requirement.

The virtual assistant can also suggest special offers and alert shoppers to promotions and the company say she can “cozy up to customers on a more personal level” by tying into their social media platforms.

Vicki can ask patrons for feedback on the products they select and those they put back. During the process, the machine can collect and analyse data about how they shop, and share it with brands and retailers. The machine features directional speakers, so only the person standing in front of it hears the sounds. Also new, since the machine’s first rendition as Lisa, is the addition of eye-scanning technology as an option for patrons to open the machine’s door by authorising payment, along with thumbprint biometrics, their smartphones or credit cards. Another new feature has blind patrons in mind: a product the customer selects vibrates, as a way to guide them to it.

That’s one smart vending machine.

Brydon returns to Bartlett Mitchell

One of the UK’s leading independent caterers, Bartlett Mitchell, has announced the re-appointment of Angus Brydon as Operations Director.  Brydon rejoins the company after a three year term at Elior.

Reporting to Francois Gautreaux, the operational managing director, Brydon becomes one of three operations directors at Bartlett Mitchell, joining Antony Prentice and Heather Day.

Gautreaux said: “We are delighted that Angus has returned to the Bartlett Mitchell family. We are exceptionally proud to have three operations directors who truly understand our values from the ground up having been with us for many years.

“As a business, the training and development of our teams is a priority so we are truly thrilled to be able to support and facilitate the next step in Angus’s career.”