Parking with bottles
It seems a great idea: take plastic bottles along to a car park to recycle, help rid the world of pollution and get money off the cost of parking. This is the scheme running at the Leeds Merrion Centre CitiPark. For a month-long trial period, the company is collecting plastic bottles of at least 500ml brought into the car park. It will be recycled and the motorist gets a 20p ($0.25) parking voucher for each one. But will it catch on?
“It’s been going really well,” says parking attendant Richard Bedford. “One chap came in with 30 bottles. He only needed 15 to pay for his parking, so he’s bringing the rest back next week.” Apart from such isolated success stories, though, the car park isn’t exactly besieged by bottle-laden motorists. Bedford estimates an average day’s take at 10 to 20 bottles, but behind him is a full crate, and he says hundreds have been recycled so far.
It may seem a tiny drop in a very polluted ocean – up to 12.7m tonnes of plastic end up in the seas every year and of the 8.3bn tonnes of plastic produced since the 1950s, only 9% has been recycled – but every little helps.
“We wanted to give something back to the community and the environment,” says Charlotte-Daisy Ziff, CitiPark’s head of corporate social responsibilities. “Parking’s expensive. Money’s tight. We thought, ‘What can we do to make a difference?’ It’s getting more popular as word gets out, but we’re conscious that we need to get the information to the public.”
Bedford says “doing my bit” makes him happier in his job, and CitiPark does have one happy recycler: me. I’ve run up a £3 bill, but get a tidy £1.20 of that back with the bottles in my boot. DAVE SIMPSON IS A LEEDS-BASED GUARDIAN WRITER