Recycle for cash with Bower, the UK's recycling app! Scan your items, earn points, and redeem them for rewards or donate to charity.
Did you know that you can get paid to recycle the items you use at home? Many of us recycle at home; it's just a part of life these days, but did you know that are still a large percentage of people who don't, which is a real shame and is the very reason that the Bower app was designed; the idea being to incentivise people financially to make sure that they recycle as much as possible which in turn makes the UK more sustainable by reducing the amount of recyclable products that go into landfill that could otherwise be made use of again which is better for our planet!
Bower Will pay you to recycle your recyclable items at home, without the need to have to go out to a special recycling centre; you just put your recyclables in your normal recycling bin at home, and you will earn money! You won't get rich, but you will earn money for doing something you are (hopefully) going to do anyway, and you will be helping to ensure we as a nation recycle as much as humanly possible.
Bower rewards you with points for every item you scan the barcode of, when you put it in your recycling bin. Once you have enough points, this can then be traded for cash or vouchers, or you can donate your earnings to charity if you prefer.
The points-to-cash ratio works like this:
25 points = 40p
50 points = 80p
100 points = £1.60
If you have more than 100 points, you'll be able to cash out the £1.60 plus the extra 40p, 80p or £1.60, depending on how many extra points you have.
You received 1 point per item scanned, so about 1.6p per item scanned. Your points stay in your account until you have enough points for a cash-out, and you can cash out once a month. The money is transferred directly to your bank account, usually within a couple of days of setting up the transfer. You can also use your points to redeem social offers on the Bower app. Offers vary, but you could redeem points for discount vouchers for future purchases or money vouchers for product discounts. In addition, Bower has teamed up with certain retailers and big brands and is offering bonuses for recycling particular products. As an example, as I write this, Bower has teamed up with Ocado, the online food retailer, to offer a 20p bonus whenever a Bower user recycles an Ocado own-brand two and four-pint milk bottle. The scheme allows for 20,000 redemptions and is worth £4,000 in total to Bower users. The scheme works by scanning a special QR code on the milk bottle packaging, which not only allocates your 20p reward but also that data is sent back to Ocado so they can see which areas of the country are better at recycling than others. It's this type of technology that will likely be used as part of a UK-wide recycling scheme, likely to be set up in 2025, which will be a deposit return scheme where consumers will pay a deposit on certain products, which will be refunded if the product is returned to be recycled; however, this is still up in the air somewhat and will likely differ quite a bit from the Bower's app system, but the concept is similar.
How does it work?
First, you need to tell the app where your bin is. You do this by taking a photo of your bin, and the app's in-built GPS will verify your location, and this will become your personal recycling location. Once you've done this, the app will use location tracking to know that you're next to your bin when scanning your recyclable items. If you're not nearby, it won't let you proceed.
If you don't want to use your own bins for recycling, or you don't have recycling facilities, the app will show you the nearest recycling station you can take your recycling to, where you can recycle, and get paid for what you do recycle. This could be a supermarket or a designated recycling centre, such as a local authorities nearest recycling point or public recycling station. Items such as plastics, for example, plastic bags, will often be recycled at a local supermarket which can be pretty convenient.
The app has a built-in scanner, and you simply use that scanner to scan the barcode of the products you're recycling, so the app knows what items you've recycled.
You can only get paid for items that have a barcode. If the app hasn't encountered the product you are recycling before, you will be asked to add it to the apps catalogue, which involves taking a photo of the item, telling the app how large it is, and then telling the app what the product is, e.g.milk cartons, cardboard boxes etc, although you don't have to do this, but it does help others if you do.
The amount of barcodes of packaging that the app stores have stored in its database of everyday items used by UK families has increased steadily over the short time the app has been available to UK users, and more people join the app and new barcodes get added, and so it's less likely you'll be asked to do this.
There is a daily limit to the number of items you can scan, you can only scan the same product once daily, so if you've got twelve empty cans of Diet Coke, for example, you can only scan one each day.
Once you scanned the products you are going to recycle, you are then asked if you want to recycle the items now and if you say yes, and you are by your recycling bins, the app will allocate the points to your account.
The app will keep you updated with your points balance and tell you how many grams of carbon you've saved by recycling your waste. As an example, my 39 points saved 509g of carbon, which is equal to 20 minutes of hair drying, 3 minutes of showering in hot water, 4 kilometres of driving a car, 6 minutes of vacuuming or 1 day of powering a 40w light bulb up, which is pretty impressive and shows you are doing your bit for the planet.
I personally don't need financial incentives for recycling; I do it anyway as a principal; it's the right thing to do, but if a company wants to pay me for recycling what I'm recycling regardless, I'm not going to say no!
Not everyone is good at recycling; in the UK, only 44.4% of household consumers' waste was recycled in 2020, so less than half of UK households recycled their recyclable items, which is a poor performance, so there is a lot of room for improvement, and it's hoped that this financial incentive will increase the recycling rates, as has proven to be the case during trials in the UK and the US. It makes sense to try and stop as many recyclable materials from being put into general waste bins instead of recycling bins and is a brilliant example of ways for people to reduce their carbon footprint and . environmental impact, and it will hopefully mean as a nation we won't produce as much carbon dioxide and reduce carbon emissions, not to mention reduce plastic pollution which over recent years has been shown to be such a problem, especially in our oceans, and this is the purpose of the app, to help the UK reach its sustainability goals. It's worth remembering that as more is recycled, more of the recycled products go back into the supply chain, which reduces the need to produce as much new packaging; great for items such as plastic bottles or other products that rely on plastic for manufacturing, as frankly the less new plastic that is produced, the better that is for many reasons!
The app is still fairly new to the UK, but the app has been available in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland for a while, where Bower has around 550,000 users who now are better at recycling their household waste, who have recycled over 55 million items to date.
There will likely be a UK-wide recycling scheme set up in 2025, where consumers will pay a deposit on certain products, which will be refunded if the product is returned to be recycled; however, this is still up in the air somewhat and will likely differ quite a bit from the Bower system, and so, for now, Bower seems like a great way to earn cash for recycling.