x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

The vending machines that work in reverse

New recycling initiatives offering incentives to get more people to go green include a 'reverse vending machine' that gives points in return for plastic or glass bottles and aluminium cans that can then be redeemed at partnering stores.

Wadih Shamma, the general manager Levant of RMS Outdoor, demonstrates a Reverse Vending Machine.
Wadih Shamma, the general manager Levant of RMS Outdoor, demonstrates a Reverse Vending Machine.

DUBAI // A new type of vending machine encourages residents to recycle by rewarding them with gift vouchers.

The Reverse Vending Machine (RVM) gives points in return for plastic or glass bottles and aluminium cans. Those points can then be redeemed at partnering stores.

To start with, 102 Reverse Vending Machines will be placed in high-traffic areas such as shopping malls, schools, universities and sports facilities, and in private communities in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. The exact locations have not been announced.

"The main benefit is encouraging people to recycle in a dynamic way," said Nasser Bakkar, the director of the RVM initiative for  averda, which launched the initiative. "We are educating them on how to be responsible and how to recycle, but at the same time we are rewarding them at the end of the day."

Mr Bakkar said that out of a billion beverage containers emptied a year, only 36,000 made it to the recycling bin.

Customers may put as many items into the machine as they like before pressing a green button to gain a receipt for the points they have earned.

"I don't recycle because I am not really involved with disposing the trash," said Mohammed Ahmed, a 21-year-old Emirati. "But if there is a reward it would encourage me and others to make an effort. It's a great initiative."

Bee'ah, an environmental and waste management company, will launch a separate RVM project at the Green Middle East exhibition in Sharjah on October 17. "This reverse vending machine is one of the many recycling touch points which will help our society contribute to a better, cleaner and greener environment and help the economy by putting recyclable material back into the economic cycle," said Khaled Al Huraimel, the Bee'ah chief executive.

A third scheme was launched yesterday at 16 Emarat petrol stations across Dubai. Units at these stations are able to collect and treat 25 tonnes of recyclable waste every year. Once a month, customers who recycle 10 or more glass, plastic, or metal containers will go into a draw to win an iPad 2.

aalhaddad@thenational.ae