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Cash for bottle

Portland native cashes in on increased bottle refund rates

An integral part of William Barrant’s routine is washing the beer bottles he collects to make sure they are fit for returning.

If ever there was a term that most adequately describes Portland native William Barrant, it would be entrepreneur.

The 50-year-old shopkeeper has always worked to make ends meet by juggling jobs to generate enough money to provide for his family. These days, Barrant is adding ‘bottle-preneur’ to his résumé since he accelerated one stream of income — collecting and selling beer bottles.

From his shop in the community of Moore Town, a business he started 20 years ago, Barrant sells a variety of goods, including Red Stripe products.

“I used to buy crates of beer for my shop and keep some in storage. I had so much that when my friends keep dance I could lend them 30 or 40 crates. It was during this time that I learnt about Red Stripe’s bottle-return programme where I could earn cash from trading in empty bottles,” said Barrant.

Today, Barrant has made bottle collection one of his priority jobs, as it provides him with considerable returns. Every day Barrant loads his vehicle with up to 26 crates and drives to communities across the parish collecting bottles from residents.

Returns are now yielding double what they used to with the recent launch of Red Stripe’s ‘Redcycling’ campaign. The company increased the price it pays for empties by 100 per cent, now paying out $20 for each bottle returned and $600 for each full crate. The initiative is part of its drive to bolster its sustainability agenda, as glass bottles can be reused up to six times in the production cycle without losing their purity and quality.

“As a business that relies heavily on natural resources to operate, we are always seeking ways to decrease our environmental footprint. This initiative will not only allow us to use less material in production, but also to get members of the community to become more environmentally conscious and reward them for their efforts in a tangible way,” said Ricardo Nuncio Red Stripe’s managing director.

When Barrant learned of the price increase earlier this year, he said he already had 800 crates of used bottles in storage. With the motivation to gather more, he ramped up his collection drive. Once the stash got to 2,000 crates he headed to Red Stripe’s 214 Exchange on Spanish Town Road.

“The price increase just made me want to collect more because that meant more money to provide for my family and put food on the table,” Barrant told the Jamaica Observer.

“I am grateful for the increase because I can better provide for my girlfriend and two children. I might not always be here to take care of them so I am doing all I can now. With the money I’ve earned, I’ve paid my bills, bought a washing machine and a stove, and paid the insurance for the car,” he continued.

The economic benefits aside, the Redcycling initiative has also allowed Barrant to gain perspective on the environmental implications of improper waste disposal.

“It really bothers me that we don’t take care of our environment. Something like glass that takes millions of years to decompose shouldn’t be left on the road. That’s why I think what Red Stripe is doing is amazing for the environment, because they are turning bottles into cash for people like me,” said Barrant said.

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