It seems the world in general has finally realised that recycling materials is a Good Idea, and in the UK town councils across the land have even started issuing us with special bins and boxes for the dustbin men to pick up recyclable materials.
However, recycling is certainly nothing new, and prior to the eighties we were all in the habit of recycling glass bottles. Most people had their milk delivered by the milk man each morning in glass bottles, which were rinsed and put out for him to collect and take back to the dairy to be refilled (hopefully after a proper good clean!).
More importantly though, people could even earn a little bit of money from recycling. Glass bottles used to be used for bottling fizzy drinks, and the caps on these always informed you of the ten pence deposit on the them. If you took one of these bottles back to the shop, they would give you ten pence.
Enterprising kids would take advantage of this by collecting up as many bottles as they could (from family, neighbours, friends, other people’s dustbins etc.) and taking arm loads of them back for some spare cash.
So why did this practice disappear? In the case of milk bottles people gradually started moving towards buying their milk from the supermarket, often because it was cheaper but also because supermarket milk always seems to last a bit longer for some reason, or so I’ve found.
Glass fizzy bottles disappeared though when drinks manufacturers (particularly Coca Cola if memory serves) started selling their wares in plastic bottles. These were sold on the basis of being both larger and unbreakable – I remember a TV advert from when they were first introduced showing a bottle of coke being dropped down some stairs, and a man at the bottom opening it and taking a drink. I’m not sure why he didn’t get soaked by the agitated fizzy pop though…
To finish, whilst I’m on the subject of plastic drinks bottles, does anyone remember that when these first plastic bottles appeared they had a black plastic base glued to the bottom? I presume this was to make them stand up better, and that this practice has now stopped purely as a cost cutting measure?