Edinburgh bar offers rewards for empty plastic bottles

MIke Christopherson with plastic bottles he is asking customers to bring to his bar to exchange. Picture: Alistair Linford
MIke Christopherson with plastic bottles he is asking customers to bring to his bar to exchange. Picture: Alistair Linford
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A CITY bar chain has seized the initiative over plastic bottle recycling by offering money off a cuppa to people who bring back their empties.

The Scottish Government has commissioned a detailed design of how a deposit-return system could work for plastic and glass bottles and cans before carrying out a consultation on the proposals.

But Boda Bars, which has six premises in the Capital, has launched its own reward scheme, promising customers 10p off tea or coffee if they bring in a plastic bottle.

Anna Christopherson, who owns the chain with her husband, had already backed the campaign for the deposit system. She said: “I thought, why not just do it ourselves, why wait? We can do something and make sure bottles are recycled properly.”

The government-backed system, if it happens, is expected to see “reverse vending” machines in bigger shops to accept returned bottles and cans. But Boda Bars are just taking them over the counter and putting them in their normal recycling.

Ms Christopherson said: “At Hemma in Holyrood Road, the bin outside is always overflowing. Last week I took out 20 plastic bottles, which would just have gone to landfill.”

She comes from Sweden, where a deposit recycling system is long-established. “When we were kids we collected cans and took them to the shop and got sweets.”

Boda Bars is thought to be the first business in Scotland to have launched its own reward scheme.

Ms Christopherson said she hoped it would help 
encourage politicians to adopt the idea. “It needs to come from above, with an acknowledgement that this is a huge issue.

“People from other countries think it’s obvious and wonder why we don’t have it already. Lots of other countries do.”

Around 22,000 tonnes of plastic drinks bottles go to landfill in Scotland each year. Campaigners say if they were separated for recycling it could be worth around £6 million to the economy.

Mike Christopherson said there had been a really good response to the Boda scheme. “I didn’t think people would care so much, but they do.”

John Mayhew, director of the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland, which is running the Have You Got The Bottle? campaign, praised the initiative. He said: “Boda Bars are a popular Edinburgh institution, and this reward programme is a sign of their real commitment to their 
community and to our environment. Like them, we’re campaigning for a system across Scotland so everyone has an incentive to bring their empties and get their deposit back.

“It’s popular, it works across Scandinavia and 
elsewhere, and we’re so pleased to see the Scottish Government starting the design of a distinctively Scottish system.”