Social media users are sharing a photo of a plastic bottle of mineral water with a sticker, which shows a QR code and informs people that they can collect ₹5 after returning the empty bottle.
The claim: The photo has gone viral with the claim that in Uttar Pradesh's Ayodhya, people will receive ₹5 for returning empty plastic bottles.
But...?: The claim is misleading.
The sticker on the bottle is for a Deposit Refund System (DRS) by an organisation called The Kabadiwala, which involves the buyer paying a refundable deposit, which can be collected once the item is returned.
In this case, if the bottle is priced at ₹10, the buyer will pay ₹15 and will be eligible to get the deposited amount of ₹5 after consuming the water and returning the empty bottle.
How did we find out?: We scanned the QR code on the bottle, which led us to a static webpage showing collection points and 'Refund Centre 01'.
We noticed the bottom of the sticker, which carried a logo which read 'The Kabadiwala'.
Taking a cue from this, we used the name as a search term on the internet.
This led us to a post by an account on X (formerly Twitter) called The Kabadiwala, which identified itself as a waste management company.
It shared the same image, mentioning that if one returns the empty bottle at the refund centre, they would "get ₹5 deposit back."
On their website, we came across the details of this initiative under a page called Deposit Refund System (DRS).
This page said the initiative is a collaboration between The Kabadiwala and the Ayodhya Nagar Nigam to keep Ayodhya clean.
The system's summary states that it encourages consumer to recycle waste "by adding a refundable deposit of Rs 5" and when these items are returned to a collection point, "consumers receive their deposit back."
The company's clarification: The Quint reached out to The Kabadiwala for their inputs over email, to which the company responded and clarified that it was the DRS system.
"The goal is to reduce littering and promote the recycling of these items to minimize their environmental impact," the email read, adding that consumers pay "pay an additional deposit fee of Rs 5" on top of its actual price.
"The extra Rs 5 is a refundable deposit to incentivize consumers to return the empty containers for recycling," it said.
The Kabadiwala also shared a video from their channel which explains the process in easy terms.
Conclusion: The viral photo does not show a sticker for a payout scheme for returning empty plastic bottles in Ayodhya.
People buying these products pay a deposit amount which is in addition to the retail price of a product, which they can collect after returning the bottle.