Could you live for free on plastic bottles…?

When I was young in the 60s me and my friends would regularly scout around our neighbourhood collecting drinks bottles that had a deposit on them. Lemonade, Corona fizzy drinks and beer bottles were the most common ones if I recall.

I can’t remember what the deposit was on each bottle, maybe a halfpenny or a penny, but if we were lucky we would earn enough for a good stash of sweets to take back to our camp in the cow field.

Today we visited the Swansea Marina Tesco while our daughter was at a Chinese event nearby.

We generally shop at Aldi these days but we wanted to go to that particular Tesco superstore as we had spotted that it was one of five taking part in a trial plastic bottle ‘reverse vending’ recycling scheme.

The scheme, launched in September 2018, gives customers a 10p Tesco voucher for every plastic bottle they return.

As well as Swansea the other stores in the trial are in Borehamwood, Edinburgh, Manchester and Birmingham…

The scheme accepts bottles up to 750ml in size from Tesco or major brands such as Coca-Cola.

We took 11 bottles, and nine were accepted by the machine giving us a voucher for 90p to spend on anything in Tesco.

The scheme is supposedly limited to 10 bottles per customer per day, but the family in front of us put in 61 bottles and got £6.10. I think they ‘beat the system’ just be doing it in seven batches with a separate voucher for each.

When we first saw the machine in December there were a couple of women filling it up with bottles collected from their work colleagues. They got £23 towards drinks for their office Christmas party.

A Tesco press release of April 2019 mentioned that the highest amount of bottles returned in one day was 1,052 in Edinburgh’s Hermiston Gait Superstore…

Plastic bottles are all over the place alas, and as the Christmas party women showed it would not be hard to collect considerable numbers.

That gave me the idea for any enterprising soul living near one of these Tesco participating in this trial.

If you could collect just 50 bottles a day you could get £5 in vouchers to spend.

I am pretty sure a single person could eat and drink moderately well on £5 (US$6.50) a day at Tesco.

It probably wouldn’t be too difficult to get even more than 50 and dine in style.

I wonder how quickly Tesco would catch on to this. Maybe a couple of friends working together and shopping at different times of the day and night could fly under the radar.

Anyone in Swansea, Borehamwood, Edinburgh, Manchester or Birmingham up for a challenge?

Live for free and save the planet at the same time…

[ images from @pennsif ]