Coca-Cola recycling machines back at UK theme parks after ‘popular demand’


coca cola recycling plastic bottles machines

The reverse vending machines are operating again this summer | Credit: Coca-Cola

Reverse vending machines offering half price tickets to tourist attractions in exchange for used plastic bottles have been rolled out again this summer

Half-price tickets for a raft of top UK tourist attractions will again be offered in exchange for used plastic bottles this summer, after Coca-Cola announced plans to extend its recycle-on-the-go partnership with theme park operator Merlin Entertainments.

Since Monday, 23 reverse vending machines have been operating at leading Merlin UK attractions – including Alton Towers, Legoland, Thorpe Park, and Chessington World of Adventures. The machines enable consumers to deposit used plastic bottles in exchange for tokens offering discounts on entry tickets.

By depositing one plastic bottle into one of the machines, consumers are offered a half-price ticket to the attractions.

The initiative first began as a trial in summer 2018, but “following popular demand” Coca-Cola said the machines have been brought back again this year, while additional machines have been added at further Merlin sites such as Sea Life in Blackpool and Warwick Castle.

In a further push to reduce packaging waste, a Coca-Cola ‘Freestyle’ machine has also been made available at Thorpe Park, offering consumers the ability to pre-load money onto a RFID chip in a refillable drinks cup.

Machines at Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures and Legoland Windsor will be in place until October 17th 2019, while machines at all other locations will remain until the end of March next year.

Sandra Hazel, Merlin Entertainments’ group head of ‘Being a Force for Good’, said the initiative had proved a “great success” in 2018. “This partnership is a great way to work together to protect our planet and is just one of the initiatives we are invested in to increase recycling at our attractions,” she said.

The move forms part of Coca-Cola’s waste-busting drive, following recent announcements of plans to shift its Glaceau Smartwater brand to 100 per cent recycled bottles and move to 50 per cent recycled plastic bottles across its entire range later this year.

Leendert den Hollander, vice president and general manager at Coca-Cola European Partners, said the ultimate aim was for 100 per cent of the firm’s packaging to be collected, reused or recycled.

“Our continued partnership with Merlin Entertainments forms an important part of this, as we seek to reward and recognise people for recycling their used plastic bottles – and encourage others who may not be actively recycling to follow suit,” he said.

The latest move comes in the same week as a new analysis from the Campaign to Protect Rural England argued that adopting a wide-ranging national bottle deposit return scheme, as is currently being considered by the government, could deliver around £2bn of economic gains.

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