A SOUTHEND Vape shop has recycled 20,000 bottles to rid the borough of waste and reward customers for recycling.

Vape and Juice introduced a plastics return scheme, where every time a bottle is brought to them - accompanied with a lid for recycling - the customer donating it will receive money off their next purchase from their store rewards card.

It was introduced seven months ago in a bid to encourage residents to recycle.

Since then, the store, in High Street, has recycled more than 20,000 of their customer’s bottles.

The size of the bottle and amount donated determines how much credit is put on the customer’s reward cards, so the more customer’s donate, the more money they receive off.

David Mason, director and owner of Vape and Juice, said: “I could see how much was being binned and how much plastic waste there was in Southend.

“Southend is getting quite grim again and we need to take care of our environment and community, particularly the sea around us.

“I lost both of my parents to cancer, with my dad suffering from a cancer which relates to your diet and lifestyle.

“This made me want to start to eat better, so I started to eat fish.

“I heard about how micro-plastic is being stuck in fish and I felt awful hearing how they were suffering because of plastic.

“This made me think, what can we do to help the area around us and to at least try to make a difference.

“All of us have a responsibility to do our bit and if we all can make a small difference, it will help.”

David explained the process of recycling after customers bring the bottles to Vape and Juice. He said: “Customers bring bottles into the office, where they are sorted by size and then manufacturers take them for recycling. They are either melted down and re-used, or go through a process called hydrosonic cleaning.”

Vape and Juice is one of few businesses across the county which has implemented the recycling scheme.

Its scheme is in place permanently and David hopes other businesses will also adopt his green approach.

He said: “I know I’m not going to change the world but if I can show other businesses how they can help I’m hoping it will cause a chain reaction.

“How nice would it be if big businesses thought: ‘We have a responsibility to our community,’ and did these kinds of things?

“The more people who think and care about these issues, the better place it will be in 20 years time.

“The town is so important to me. I used to go fishing with my dad on the sea front and I hope the fish will still be there in the future so I can do things like this with my son.

“It’s important to take ownership of our failings. As a society with so much waste we all have to take a responsibility for it.

“I care about things in the long term, we only have one world which we should all take care of.”

Southend BID (Business Improvemement District) has also introduced a scheme which provides water ‘refill stations’ across Southend, where members of the public can fill up their plastic bottles for free. This scheme was also an attempt to reduce waste across Southend.