Glasgow & West Scotland

Irn Bru maker AG Barr signals end to bottle returns

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Media captionThe makers of Irn Bru are to stop the 30p refund on returned glass bottles of the fizzy drink

Irn Bru maker AG Barr is to scrap its 30p buyback scheme for customers who return glass bottles.

The move comes as the company invests £5m in facilities to fill bottles quicker at its Cumbernauld plant, while it decommissions washing equipment.

AG Barr said it would no longer be able to handle returns after 31 December.

The firm explained that recycling at home had contributed to a drop in bottles being returned from 90% in the early 1990s to only about 50% now.

Dubbed "Scotland's other national drink", Irn Bru was created to an original recipe in 1901 when it was initially called Iron Brew.

The company introduced bottle returns in 1905 and changed its famous product's name to Irn Bru in 1946, amid concern over new food labelling regulations.

Well-spent youth

By Nick Eardley, BBC News

The man who used to run the newsagent's down the road from my parents' house in Edinburgh must have hated me.

As a child, my friends and I would turn up at the weekend with however many Irn Bru bottles we had managed to get our hands on to claim our 20p coins.

The bottles would come from a variety of sources - my dad, neighbours, the park where teenagers used to drink on a Friday and Saturday night.

I'll always remember the day we found dozens of bottles in a bag - for Edinburgh's answer to the Famous Five, it was like winning the lottery. There were so many we had to stagger our trips to the newsagent to claim our cash.

Many a weekend's sweet supply was bankrolled by our bottle finding adventures. Future generations will never know such joy.

Jonathan Kemp, commercial director, said: "This significant investment allows us to continue to offer our consumers their favourite products in glass, well into the future.

"With improved kerbside recycling, only one in two of our bottles are now being returned, meaning that the process of handling returned bottles has become uneconomic."

This investment will replace Barr's current glass line, which is almost 20 years old, with more efficient glass filling capability, and will see "energy-hungry" returnable glass bottle washing equipment decommissioned.

Mr Kemp added: "From the beginning of October information on the change will be carried on the bottle label and we will work with retailers to display materials in their premises to ensure our consumers understand what is planned."

Image caption Irn Bru has a history of producing the drink in glass bottles

Irn Bru bottles reach point of no return

By Douglas Fraser, BBC Scotland business editor

Returnable glass bottles are an unlikely national icon but their demise has unleashed a lot of nostalgia for the soft drinks that fuelled many Scottish childhoods.

"It's a sad decision to take," admits AG Barr's commercial director, Jonathan Kemp. "It's the end of an era.

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