Coca-Cola teams up with Merlin for ‘reverse vending machine’ half price ticket programme


Coca-Cola Great Britain has partnered with Merlin Entertainments to offer people half price tickets to some of the UK’s most popular family attractions in exchange for recycling their used plastic drink bottles via a new network of reverse vending machines installed at Merlin theme parks.

A trial at four of Merlin’s leading attractions (Alton Towers Resort, Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures and LEGOLAND Windsor) will run between 25th July and 19th October 2018, inviting people to bring and recycle any 500ml plastic bottle via on-site reverse vending machines in exchange for a voucher to receive 50% off entry at 30 participating Merlin attractions, including Alton Towers Resort, Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures and LEGOLAND Windsor.

The project follows research by Coca-Cola Great Britain, revealing 64% of British consumers would recycle more on-the-go if they were rewarded instantly for their actions.

Coca-Cola and Merlin say that the trial is the first of its kind in the UK to offer people a more valuable reward than the original purchasing price of the plastic drinks bottle they recycle, as the 50% off voucher equates to a saving of around £27 when buying a Merlin attraction day pass.

The partnership comes a year since Coca-Cola Great Britain launched its sustainable packaging strategy alongside a global goal to collect and recycle a bottle or can for every one it sells, by 2030, to help ensure a world without waste.

Jon Woods, General Manager of Coca-Cola Great Britain, says: “We want to reward people for doing the right thing by recycling their bottles and hope to encourage some people who wouldn’t otherwise have done so. Through this exciting new trial with Merlin Entertainments we hope to remind people how valuable their empty plastic bottle is. All of our bottles can be recycled and we want to get as many of them back as possible so they can be turned into new bottles and not end up as litter.”

He continues: “This is just one of the actions that we’re taking to play our part in achieving a World Without Waste. We buy more recycled plastic in the UK than any other company and we are in the process of doubling the recycled plastic in all our bottles from 25% to 50% by 2020. We’re also running television campaigns encouraging people to recycle, putting clear recycling messages across all of our packs and we’re supportive of new interventions, such as deposit return schemes, to see if they improve recycling rates.”

Sandra Hazel, Head of Force for Good at Merlin Entertainments, observes: “This partnership with Coca-Cola Great Britain demonstrates our shared ambition to use our brands for good. We’re constantly looking for ways to raise awareness and help contribute to a better environment. As a responsible business and an advocate for marine conservation, we’re pleased to be joining forces with Coca-Cola Great Britain to encourage people to recycle more this summer, by rewarding them with family fun.”

Jon Dormer, Managing Director at Unisan UK, supplier of the CafeCrush reverse vending machines being deployed in the trial, adds: “Our CafeCrush reverse vending machines reward people for recycling. Users simply insert an empty plastic bottle, it’s crushed and then they receive an incentive. The way the machine works means the bottles are not contaminated by other waste and so, are perfect for recycling. Also, because they are crushed, reducing waste volume by up to 90 per cent, more bottles can be stored and therefore less transportation is needed to get them to recycling facilities – a win for consumers and the environment.”

The announcement is the latest in a series of actions from Coca-Cola Great Britain to ensure its packaging is as sustainable as possible and to encourage more people to recycle. Since the launch of its sustainable packaging strategy last year, Coca-Cola has introduced clearer on-pack recycling messaging on its bottles, and aired a dedicated recycling TVC called ‘Love Story’ which has reached over 30m people.

Coca-Cola Great Britain also continues to be the largest user of recycled food grade plastic in the UK with a commitment to increase the recycled PET in its packs from 25% to 50% by 2020. The company also continues to work closely with UK and Scottish governments looking at the introduction of a well-designed deposit return scheme and other ways to increase recovery and recycling rates.

Coca-Cola Great Britain is responsible for marketing 20 brands and over 80 products to consumers across Great Britain. Led by Coca-Cola, one of the world’s most valuable and recognisable brands, its portfolio includes Fanta, Sprite, Dr Pepper, Oasis, glaceau vitaminwater, glaceau smartwater, Schweppes, Lilt, and Powerade.

Merlin Entertainments plc is a global leader in location based, family entertainment. As Europe’s biggest – and the world’s second-largest – visitor attraction operator, Merlin now operates over 120 attractions, 18 hotels and six holiday villages in 25 countries across four continents, with more than 65 million visitors worldwide.

Unisan UK provides environmental sustainability and recycling solutions to over 1,000 major UK brands, serving Food & Drink Manufacturing, Car Manufacturing, Hospitals & Care Homes, Distribution Centres and the Corporate Facilities Industry.