Could you make money from your UK recycling?

Posted On October 6, 2017

uk recycling money

The UK recycling crisis has hit an all-time high; with mounds of recycling and only 4 in 10 bottles being disposed of appropriately, the UK government have proposed a solution.

Penny for your thoughts

The government has proposed a payback scheme for responsible citizens who return empty bottles. Michael Gove, the environmental secretary, has announced he’s currently proposing a ‘reward return scheme’. Although it’s not come into play just yet, it’s likely to be pushed through to persuade households to become more responsible.

This isn’t the first time the payback reward scheme’s happened here in the UK. It can be traced back as far as 1905 where the refund was for glass bottles; later the scheme was stopped in 1980 as mass production of drinks in plastic bottles took over.


Unfortunately, you’re not going to make millions off the back of the UK recycling scheme, but it’s thought it will encourage shoppers to return bottles after they are used. Unless you go around clearing up other peoples bottles it’s unlikely you’re going to get rich.

The proposed deposit being offered today is only 1p more than it was in the 1970’s standing at 6p. When we look at the value difference in today’s money, we’re not so sure it’s as much of a  lucrative incentive as previously.

It’s not the first time a small incentive has had the desired effect. The 5p shopping bag scheme has seen a dramatic decrease in the number of bags being used in supermarkets with more customers in the UK recycling and reusing bags for life.

How does it work?

The shops will put a small surcharge on the price of drinks being sold in plastic bottles which should be returned for recycling. If and when the bottles are returned the customer will receive their deposit back.

Previously this is how the scheme first started in the early 1900’s but towards the end of the scheme and after the war, an emphasis was put on the companies selling the drinks.

Is it worth it?

The maximum you will receive back is 6p, but it’s not really about being worth it; it’s more of a tax on those who don’t recycle. If you collect up all your plastic bottles and recycle them at the end of the month, you may be surprised by how much you make.
With over 8 million tonnes of plastic making its way into our oceans every year; the equivalent of a dustbin lorry every minute, something must be done to increase UK recycling habits.

Soon you’ll be living in a world where recycling is a great way to make some spare cash. From mobile phones, laptops and games consoles to plastic and glass bottles.


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