Recycle and reward: Positive steps towards a greener future

A Scottish pilot scheme to increase recycling rates will see people rewarded for disposing of their plastic, glass and aluminium responsibly – and charities can also benefit.

Each year in Scotland, around 22,000 tonnes of plastic drinks bottles go to landfill. If all those bottles were recycled, the economy would be better off to the tune of £6 million, which is why the Scottish Government is introducing a scheme to give a bit back to those who are willing to do just that themselves.

The Recycle and Reward scheme, part of Zero Waste Scotland, offers a modern version of the deposit bottle schemes of the past by offering recyclers money, vouchers or a donation to the charity of their choice. Nine different organisations in Scotland are participating in the Scottish Government’s pilot scheme, which aims to encourage people to recycle more and limit the amount of used drinks containers going to landfill.

People will take their glass, aluminium and plastic (PET) containers to “reverse vending machines” at places such as schools, railway stations and retail outlets. They will receive cash or discount vouchers in return for their acts of environmental kindness and can even, should they wish, donate the money they would receive to a charity of their choice. Scottish Environment Minister Richard Lochhead said:

“By offering customers incentives such as money back or vouchers for recycling their glass bottles and cans when out shopping, at college or travelling to work, I hope we can encourage more people to recycle on the go.”

Organisations involved in the scheme, which is backed by £900,000 of funding from the Scottish Government, include local authorities such as North Ayrshire and South Ayrshire. They have put the machines in schools, which should encourage young people to dispose of their drinks containers responsibly whilst getting a bit of extra pocket money in the process. Older students can also participate, since machines will be available at the University of Dundee and Heriot-Watt University, and, thanks to Network Rail’s involvement, commuters will benefit from machines in Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central stations.

The two IKEA stores in Scotland will offer facilities to people purchasing drinks in their restaurants, shops or vending machines. Shoppers will either receive 10p in-store discount from their bill for every recycled item, or give 10p to a charity of IKEA’s choice.

The scheme’s impact will be independently assessed. If successful, it could be rolled out to other places in Scotland.

“I hope this new scheme will encourage everyone to go that bit further, helping us to become a zero waste society. By taking small actions to go greener together we benefit Scotland today and for future generations,” added Mr Lochhead.

Recycling Lives shares Mr Lochhead’s hopes for a greener future, and considers this innovative scheme a positive step in encouraging people to incorporate recycling into their everyday lives. As a social business, we are particularly pleased that charities benefit from the scheme, too.

Since the launch of our Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) last July, the Recycling Lives Centre in Preston now accepts household waste such as drinks containers. As with all other activities at Recycling Lives, its operations benefit our own social welfare charity, supporting homeless individuals to find accommodation and employment in waste management and recycling.