UK theme parks offer half-price tickets for empty plastic bottles

plastic bottles
CC BY 2.0 Twentyfour students

"Reverse vending machines" could boost recycling rates.

The Guardian reports that the Merlin group—which operates 30 theme parks around the United Kingdom—is teaming up with Coca-Cola to install "reverse vending machines" outside of its entrances. Visitors will be able to deposit any empty plastic bottles, and will be rewarded with vouchers that offer as much as 50% off admissions.

While it's not quite the national deposit return scheme thats been promised for some time now, it is an interesting idea. After all, incentives and rewards are a logical way to get even the least environmentally conscious person to start recycling—and potentially to also encourage entrepreneurial types to monetize their 2 Minute Beach Cleans too.

What's not quite clear to me, though, is whether such reverse vending machine schemes in general will also encourage unnecessary consumption of bottled beverages in the first place. I haven't checked the admission price for a theme park like Lego Land recently, but I'm pretty sure that it's more than the cost of two 500ml soda bottles. So it wouldn't shock me if consumers go out of their way to buy a soda, simply to "trade it in" for a 50% off voucher.

Still, it's a promotional effort by Coca-Cola and I'm glad to see them putting putting their marketing dollars to work by exploring what an actual deposit return scheme might look like and how it might work. The same Guardian story reports that various grocery chains are now exploring similar schemes, including reverse vending machines at major music festivals this summer.

It's a start. I look forward to more such stories to come.

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