Backwards Vending: Machine Pays For Recyclables

Most of us are familiar with the concept of vending machines: after you put money in, the machine gives you something in return. But this new vending machine, called The Dream Machine, works in exactly the opposite way. When you put in a can or bottle to recycle, it gives you points and prizes in return.

(image via: KingDesmond)

The idea behind the Dream Machine is to encourage people to recycle even when they’re away from home. Containers from drinks consumed away from home are typically the least likely to be recycled because of the lack of public recycling facilities. It’s estimated that we throw away, rather than recycle, around 100 billion recyclable cans and bottles every year. Even where there are facilities for recycling away from home, most people lack the motivation to seek them out. This system gives the public a reason to hang onto their cans and bottles until they spot a Dream Machine.

The machines are the work of Pepsi, Waste Management and Keep America Beautiful. Manufactured by GreenOps, the machines provide points which can be redeemed at Greenopolis.com or in the store where the machine is located. Users simply scan the bar code on the can or bottle, then feed it into the machine. Each machine can hold around 300 containers before it needs to be emptied.

While not many of the machines are currently in use out in the world, thousands more will be installed over the summer and throughout the year. Ultimately, the program is expected to bring in approximately 400 million containers annually. The Dream Machines won’t interfere with state bottle recycling programs, which offer a refund of a few cents per bottle recycled, since the machines will only be installed in places where traditional recycling options aren’t available.

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