News & Events

Wednesday 25 July, 2018


First reverse vending machines enter theme parks as Coca-Cola teams up with Merlin Entertainments to exchange plastic bottles for family fun this summer

  • Coca-Cola Great Britain and Coca-Cola European Partners have partnered with Merlin Entertainments to offer discounts at UK’s best-known attractions in exchange for empty plastic bottles
  • Partnership designed to incentivise and encourage recycling on-the-go with specially created reverse vending machines

24 July 2018: Coca-Cola Great Britain and Coca-Cola European Partners have today announced a partnership with Merlin Entertainments, to offer people 50 per cent off entry to some of the UK’s most popular family attractions, in exchange for used plastic drink bottles. This comes following research by Coca-Cola Great Britain, revealing 64[1] per cent of Brits would recycle more on-the-go if they were rewarded instantly for their actions.

The summer trial will run between 25th July and 19 October 2018 and invites people to bring and recycle any 500ml plastic bottle via an on-site reverse vending machine. The innovative machines will be installed at four of Merlin’s leading attractions and will instantly reward those who deposit their empty bottles with a voucher to receive 50 per cent off entry at 30 participating Merlin attractions[2] including Alton Towers Resort, Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures and LEGOLAND Windsor.

The trial is the first in the country to offer people a more valuable reward than the original purchasing price of the plastic drinks bottle they recycle, as the 50 per cent 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 and Coca-Cola European Partners launched their sustainable packaging strategy in GB 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.

Leendert den Hollander, Vice President and General Manager at Coca-Cola European Partners, said: “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.

“This is just one of the actions that we’re taking. 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 per cent to 50 per cent 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, said: “This partnership with Coca-Cola Great Britain and Coca-Cola European Partners 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 and Coca-Cola European Partners to encourage people to recycle more this summer, by rewarding them with family fun.”

Jon Dormer, Managing Director at Unisan UK, supplier of CafeCrush™ reverse vending machines, said: "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 and Coca-Cola European Partners to ensure their 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 and Coca-Cola European Partners also continue to be the largest users of recycled food grade plastic in the UK with a commitment to increase the recycled PET in their packs from 25 per cent to 50 per cent by 2020. They continue 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.


[1] Research carried out by YouGov on behalf of Coca-Cola Great Britain. Total sample size was 2019 adults from Great Britain. Fieldwork was undertaken between 15th - 19th June 2018.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+)

[2] Subject to Terms & Conditions. See below.

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