Istanbul’s “reverse vending machines” trade recyclables for metro fare


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What incentive do you have to make sure your plastic bottle ends up in a recycling bin?

Quick! Can you solve this puzzle?

The answer is probably very little, unless you’re determined to get 5 to 10 cents per bottle at the recycling center or unless you happen to live in one of the few cities or states that have mandatory recycling laws or plastic bottle bans.

Recently, Istanbul devised a more direct incentive to boost recycling rates by installing “reverse vending machines” that allow people to trade recyclables for credit on Istanbulkart cards, which are used to pay for public transportation.

“With those smart machines, our waste management department and the municipality’s Smart City Technologies Company [İsbak] will contribute to the protection of the environment,” the municipality said on Twitter.

The machines, dubbed “Smart Mobile Waste Transfer Centers,” are able to scan and assign a value to recyclables before crushing, shredding, and sorting the material. The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality plans to install…

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