Coca-Cola and Merlin Entertainments are encouraging guests to bring empty plastic bottles to reverse vending machines at various family attractions for the chance to win VIP experiences.

Between 1st July and 30th September 2023, guests can return 500ml plastic bottles to one of twenty-eight reverse vending machines distributed across eleven Merlin Entertainments locations. These include Alton Towers Resort, LEGOLAND, Thorpe Park Resort, Chessington World of Adventures Resort, Warwick Castle, and The Blackpool Tower.

Once a bottle has been deposited, guests can enter the competition through a website printed on the receipt. It is hoped that the initiative will contribute towards Coca-Cola’s mission to collect and recycle a bottle for each one sold by 2030.

Amongst the prizes are a VIP behind-the-scenes tour and experience at Alton Tower Resort’s Sea Life Sharkbait Reef; a VIP Giraffe Geed Experience at Chessington World of Adventures Resort in connection with the Chessington Conservation Fund; a shark feed at the Deep Sea Adventure at LEGOLAND Windsor Resort in connection with the Sea Life Trust; and a chance to ride Thorpe Park Resort’s 127ft rollercoaster, The Swarm.

Each reverse vending machine will display individual branding for each prize. Four extra machines have been added to several parks since 2022 for easier access, with each attraction’s app guiding visitors to the vending machines.

Launched in 2019, the initiative has apparently seen Merlin Entertainments collect and recycle over 100,000 plastic bottles. Its partnership with Coca-Cola is said to build on the company’s sustainable packaging strategy, including its reported ‘100% recycled’ PET bottles that claim to be infinitely recyclable.

“This summer, reverse vending machines will be located across Merlin attractions which will enable guests to recycle their plastic bottles to ensure they can be used again as well as giving people the chance to win some amazing VIP experiences,” said Elodie Peribere, marketing director at Coca-Cola Great Britain. “We share Merlin’s passion for entertainment and goals for sustainability: all of our bottles are 100% recyclable, and this year we added attached caps across our portfolio to make it easier for people to recycle the whole package and help reduce littering.”

Dare Ilori, group sustainability director, continued: “Plastic waste remains a long-term environmental issue and we are committed to raising awareness and helping establish solutions to address it. As a global company, we’ll always seek to reduce our impact on the environment with clear, measurable actions.

“But now we also encourage our guests to respect their own environments and do the right thing for a sustainable future. We are proud to partner with Coca-Cola again on this brilliant initiative and to educate our guests to reduce, return and recycle their plastic and protect our planet.”

Back in 2018, a similar initiative offered guests 50% off entry for recycling plastic bottles at various attractions.

Meanwhile, a recent TOMRA report aimed to help retailers boost in-store traffic and brand loyalty with an overview of the impact of in-store deposit return systems on ‘high-volume recyclers’ in Europe.

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