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Beijing’s ‘reverse vending machines’ encourage recycling

To encourage recycling, Beijing has introduced machines that trade plastic bottles for transit passes and phone card discounts. (Xinhua/Liu Changlong / LANDOV)

Need to recycle a plastic water bottle in Beijing? Just head to a “reverse vending machine.”

Katie Lebling reports for The City Fix that more than 2,200 such machines around China’s capital accept plastic bottles in exchange for pocket money, mobile phone credits and transit vouchers. Incom Recycle, part of Asia‘s biggest manufacturer of plastic containers, began installing the dispensers in 2012, the article says.

An estimated 18 million empty bottles have been recycled in Beijing in this manner. Buoyed by that success, Incom plans to expand to large cities in Guangdong, Shandong and Shanxi provinces and Chongqing, a sprawling municipality in southwest China, The City Fix says.

Lebling highlights another technology — in this case widely available in major Chinese cities — that boosts recycling of electronics. Baidu, China’s leading search engine, partnered with the UN Development Programme on an e-waste smartphone app, Baidu Recycle. Users snap photos of unwanted items, such as TVs or fridges. The app instantly provides an estimated redemption value, links each consumer with a recycler and arranges a pickup time, the article notes. 

The City Fix

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