Irn-Bru to end 30p glass bottle returns

Irn-Bru maker AG Barr is set to end their glass bottle return policy, which has been in place for over a century, as it invests £5 million in new facilities.

Published 19th Aug 2015
Updated 8 th Aug 2023

The company said it made the decision after seeing a “significant reduction” in the number of bottles returned for 30p, which it believes is down to increasing numbers of their customers choosing to recycle at home instead.

Some of the older glass bottle designs. Picture: PA

Some of the older glass bottle designs. Picture: PA

The £5 million investment at its facility in Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire, will see the installation of new, high-speed filling capability for its glass bottle range.

Figrues for returns of its bottles have dropped from nearly 90 per cent early 1990s, to just over 50 per cent today.

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

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“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.

“We will continue to offer the same quality products in the 750ml bottle for the long-term, but the bottle will no longer be returnable.”

Dubbed “Scotland’s other national drink”, Irn-Bru was created to an original secret recipe in 1901 when it was initially called Iron Brew.

It changed its name to Irn-Bru in 1946 amid concern over new food labelling regulations.

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The company introduced bottle returns in 1905 and will continue to accept bottles until December 31 this year.

It said the investment will replace AG Barr’s current glass line, which is almost 20 years old, with faster more efficient glass filling capability, and will see the “energy-hungry” returnable glass bottle washing equipment decommissioned.

Mr Kemp said: “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.

“This exciting investment in the future of our glass filling capability will ensure that our loyal glass bottle fans can continue to enjoy their favourite soft drinks, exactly as they are, for many years to come.”

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