John Irvine, the managing director of the Lebanese waste management company averda, talks about ReVa, a reverse vending machine. The company, which started in Beirut 30 years ago, entered the UAE in 2006. The recycling machine, co-sponsored by Tecom Investments and averda, was launched in the first week of December.
What does the machine do? Where are these installed?
Users can exchange plastic bottles and aluminium cans for Air Miles loyalty rewards. There are 15 such machines in Tecom business parks, including Dubai Internet City, Studio City, Academic City, Dubai Outsourcing Zone, International Media Production Zone, Dubai Media City, DuBiotech and Dubai Knowledge Village. We are looking for a strategic partner like Tecom in Abu Dhabi and hope to enter the market in the first quarter of 2013. We want a comprehensive coverage in the UAE in a year or 18 months, and then scale it up to Arabian Gulf level.
This programme is free for users. How does averda generate revenues from these?
This is part of our corporate social responsibility effort. We want to raise the level of education about how individuals can reduce and recycle waste. The machines are funded by Tecom and averda. If any company wants to buy them as part of their CSR efforts, they can buy from us. We are the sole distributors of ReVa machines. We can also maintain the machines for them. There is another company in Sharjah that has similar but smaller reverse vending machines [as part of their municipality effort myBeeah.ae], but we have two sizes: one larger than the other.
What do you do with the aluminium cans and plastic bottles?
After collecting the recyclables from the [machine], averda segregates them according to the type of recyclable, and then refines the segregation process by sorting them according to their composition. These are subsequently transferred to the corresponding recycling facilities.
How do users register the Air Miles points they acquire?
When you recycle your can or bottle, the machine will generate a receipt with a 13-digit number. The user should register online at the Air Miles Middle East website. Once they register, and they are logged in, they can go to the Collect page, and then on the right side go to 'collect online', then click on 'recycle with ReVa', and enter the 13-digit number, and the points collected will be added directly to their account.
How many users do you have now?
The first day we launched, all the 15 machines became full in one day. Each week we have 2,000 to 5,000 users. The small machines have a capacity of 500 cans and bottles of small size, while the big ones have a capacity of a little above 1,500 cans and bottles, always of a small size.