Reverse vending arrives in Australia



Man using reverse vending machine

Reverse vending machines make recycling while out and about an easy task - and offer incentives to users, such as shopping discounts and prizes.

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Australia's first retail 'reverse vending machine' has been installed in a Sydney shopping centre.

As discussions surrounding state based container deposit legislation stall, the Metcentre complex, in the city's CBD, has taken sustainability into its own hands - installing the Envirobank vending machine to manage the centres recyclable waste and lower its eco-impact.

With the average shopping centre producing approximately 30 tonnes of recyclable material each week, the Metcentre will use the machine to provide its visitors with a hands-on way to do their bit for the environment.

The machine looks like a typical vending machine, but instead of inserting coins to receive a drink or snack, users place their empty bottles or cans in to receive prizes or in-centre retailer discounts.

Unlike recycling bins, reverse vending machines can identify non-recyclable material, crunch cans and bottles on site and alert staff when full.

Each machine can hold up to 3,000 bottles and cans, and every item is scanned and recorded to provide an accurate carbon audit, based on the material collected.

By reducing rubbish collection frequency, the machines are designed to reduce associated emissions, as well as waste management costs.

"Reverse vending machines are a modern day cash-for-cans initiative designed to make recycling fun for consumers, and ultra-effective for centre management services," said managing director of Envirobank, Narelle Anderson.

The machine is also to be installed with an LCD screen, which will be used to share tips about how to go green (as well as promotional messages) to the Metcentre's 10 million-plus visitors each year.

"This is true 21st century approach to recycling," said Stephen Alborough, from Metcentre. "Customers are involved, and the technology ensures that every bottle and can collected in our centre has a positive impact on the environment."