A SECONDARY school in East Kilbride is the first in the country to install a ‘reverse’ vending machine.

In less than a fortnight the pupils of St Andrew’s and St Bride’s High School have recycled almost 3000 cans and plastic bottles as part of the pilot project instigated by South Lanarkshire Council.

The school's Pupil Parliament worked with the council’s Facilities team and Excel Vending who devised and manufacture the machine, on the challenge, with prizes for the pupils who recycle the most.

Moray Blackwood, who is in third year, said: "It is a vending machine in reverse, taking back the plastic bottles and cans we use every day. For every item we put in, we get a token and there are prizes for the pupils who recycle the most. It’s such a simple but ingenious idea that if rolled out to all schools could make a huge difference to our environment. Our Pupil Parliament is proud that our high school is the first in Scotland to embrace the idea.”

Head Teacher Fiona Mullen said: "This entire initiative has been pupil-led as our young people react to the messages we hear each day about the world they are growing up in. At recent assemblies, for example, we have learned that one million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute, as well as two million plastic bags. Plastic is also killing more than 1.1m seabirds and animals each year."

The machine works around a 360-degree recognition system which picks up the barcode, material, size and dimensions of an item before crushing, compacting and dropping it into a bag which can hold up to 800 bottles and cans.

The Scottish Government recently announced plans for a deposit return scheme for drinks containers and has launched a consultation.