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Edinburgh Zoo goes green for plastic waste campaign

Edinburgh Zoo is backing the ‘Have You Got the Bottle?’ campaign which aims to raise awareness of the issues surrounding plastic waste, and to educate people about the benefits of deposit return systems.

This Easter, visitors to the zoo who place their empty bottles or cans into a ‘reverse vending machine’ will be rewarded with a receipt which includes a 10p discount for the zoo cafe.

Outside there is former rhino transportation crate which returns 10p for every plastic bottle it swallows.

The other animals that call Edinburgh Zoo their home have been joined by Pedro the plastic penguin and Vicky the vegware penguin, who were created to raise awareness for alternatives to single-use plastic.

Have You Got The Bottle? is a campaign led by the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland. The campaign urges Scottish ministers to introduce a deposit return system for plastic, glass and metal drinks containers to reduce litter. With a Scottish deposit return scheme getting the green light in September 2017, campaigners north of the border have welcomed the news that England are also committed to introducing a deposit return system.

Environment Journal spoke to Jenni Hume, campaign manager at Have You Got The Bottle?

Why was Edinburgh Zoo chosen?

Now that the Scottish government has committed to a deposit return system, we wanted to find a way for the public to learn more about them.

At the same time, they can chat with staff and learn more about deposit return systems. Polling shows the public is really in favour of these systems so we’re excited to talk with them about it.

We worked with Edinburgh Zoo and their green team who were keen to educate their visitors as they have a strong sustainability message. We chose to run over Easter as we thought there would be lots of opportunities for families to visit in that time.

People have been interested to learn more and to use the reverse vending machine, it’s been snowing all week so numbers haven’t been as high as if there was nice weather, but people are interested in learning more.

When will Scotland introduce a deposit return scheme?

In September, the First Minister committed to introducing a deposit return scheme, and Zero Waste Scotland has been working on a design for Scotland.

Before Christmas, they visited 5 countries who all have deposit return systems, and between January and April this year they’ve been holding stakeholder engagement groups and have met with retailers, NGOs, people from the dairy industry, local authorities and drinks producers.

They’ve had really detailed and in-depth discussions and we did expect in the summer, before the England announcement, that there would be a public consultation. This would propose 2 or 3 system design options and following that a decision would be made.

We’d like a system that can work in Scotland and England easily.

Is the public now more aware of the issues surrounding plastic waste?

Pedro the plastic penguin and Victoria the vegware penguin. Designed to show combustible alternatives to single-use plastic.


Lots of organisations have been campaigning for a long time and the momentum has been building. TV programmes like Blue Planet have brought it to the forefront of people’s minds.

We’re hopeful the deposit return system in Scotland and England will include all materials including glass plastic and metal cans.

Blue Planet has been really good. The marine conversation society reported a massive increase in membership following the first episode and issues of marine plastic pollution is now high profile.


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