ByMegan Winkler

Jul 10, 2014

Recycling isn’t always easy, and let’s face it, sometimes an incentive helps. New machines in Sydney, Australia, let you deposit your empty cans and bottles in recycling receptacles, in exchange for a small gift ranging from a 10-cent donation to charity to a drawing for two free tickets to the Sydney New Year’s Eve Dawes Point viewing area. But what experts are actually hoping for is a more conscious public when it comes to recyclables.

A Boost to Recycling

According to the City of Sydney, an average of 15,000 cans and bottles are thrown away in landfills or left on the side of the road as litter every minute across Australia. “Lord Mayor Clover Moore said only about 42 percent of bottles and cans are recycled annually in NSW and the city was working hard to raise that figure through a range of new initiatives,” stated a press release from the City of Sydney’s Media Center. They found that these reverse vending machines are the best possible option for increasing recycling about town.

The city also cites Clean-Up Australia’s figures for evidence that something needs to be done with respect to recyclables. Research from the organization indicates that over one-third of the garbage in New South Wales is from beverage containers. Plus, the organization claims that there are around 40,000 injuries from broken glass containers each year, 5,000 of which require treatment from a physician.


A Trial Run for a Better World

Right now, the City of Sydney has installed these reverse vending machines in Circular Quay and Dixon Street Mall, Haymarket, to see if and how they affect the recycling rate of Australians in those areas. Each machine will hold 2,000 containers before automatically emailing the city to inform officials when a machine is full. I love this because it means that valuable time and resources won’t be wasted on visiting and emptying half-full machines. It’s a little step toward being greener, but a little step goes a long way.

How Big of an Impact Are We Talking About?

The Lord Mayor of Sydney and the panel of officials behind the initiative are realistic about the impact these machines will make, but they’re hopeful. Will the reverse vending machines also reverse Sydney residents’ tendency to ignore recycling opportunities? Perhaps, but only time will tell. In the meantime, the city is implementing other initiatives focused on recycling, to include recycling stations for light bulbs, cell phones, and batteries.

By Megan Winkler

Eco-nerd, solar power enthusiast, DIY diva and professional coffee drinker, Megan has written everything from courses in healthcare and psychology to interior design and cooking advice. She has a master’s degree in military history, owns two chainsaws, is a collector of strange trivia and a world renowned Pinterest pro. She is constantly looking for better ways to do things.