Glass experts toast 25 years of bottle bank success

The man who launched the UK's first ever bottle bank 25 years ago celebrated the scheme's success alongside glass industry experts yesterday.

The event, organised by letsrecycle.com, was held in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, at one of the original 11 sites opened a quarter of a century ago this week.

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Former British Glass president Stanley Race receives a bottle of champagne from letsrecycle.com's Kate Freeman

Stanley Race launched the original scheme in Barnsley while he was president of the Glass Manufacturers' Federation (now British Glass) and chairman of Redfearn (now Rexam) Glass.

Mr Race, who is now retired, said: “We were very enthusiastic about this scheme. We felt that it would eventually capture the imagination of the public and the local authorities as they saw its benefits.”

Pressure

Gerard Morris of the Environment Agency in the Riding, said: “We are very pleased that bottle banks started in this area.

“The way the Landfill Directive is going, more and more recycling will have to happen around the country in order to take the pressure off sending things to landfill sites.”

Commenting on bring banks' success, Mr Race said: “I thought we would make an impact in this area, where there are so many glass works, but I didn't think there would one day be a bottle bank in every town in the UK.”

On 24 August 1977, bottle banks were launched simultaneously in South Yorkshire – which now consists of Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield councils – and Oxford. But while Oxford launched its scheme in the afternoon, Barnsley started in the morning.

Six months after the scheme began, 500 tonnes had been collected across the country. This was seen as such a success that banks were installed across the UK. By 1996, 380 local authorities were taking part. There are now 50,000 banks in the UK – more than 800 are in the South Yorkshire area alone.

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