How to incentivise plastic recycling?

How can we encourage greater recycling?
One solution to incentivise plastic recycling can be found in Rome.

If like me, you have ever been involved in recycling, you will know how difficult it is to encourage and incentivise recycling.

Rome is trialling a scheme where people can recycle plastic bottles in return for free rides on the city’s public transport system, which I saw “first-hand” during my visit in November 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic.

The trail scheme is called +Ricicli + Viaggi (or + Recycle + Travel in English), which is designed to encourage recycling of PET plastic bottles through an incentive for their delivery into the machines.

Atac, which runs Rome’s public transport network, will credit accounts with an “ecobonus” on the online ticket purchasing apps MyCicero and TabNet when users insert plastic bottles into the machine. The machines are designed to exchange one plastic bottle for €0.05 in credit, making a standard €1.50 journey worth 30 bottles.

Whilst in Rome, I took the opportunity to visit one of the three locations, where it is possible to use the recycle plastic bottles. The location, I visited was at Piramide Station on Line B with the other locations at Cipro station on Line A & San Giovanni station on Line C.

Once you exit the ticket control barrier, it is likely that you will readily see a line of people and their plastic bottles queuing in front of the machine in a similar way that I did during my visit.

Before recycling, the user brings up an app to register themselves with the recycling machine using their smartphone

This registration is made by the recycling machine scanning a unique QR code on the smartphone.

Once registered the user can insert their plastic bottles into the recycling macine.

Periodically, the recycling machine may jam. These jams are monitored by a supervisor and they take action to unblock the machine.

Each person recycling is rewarded with a credit of exchange of one plastic bottle for €0.05 in credit, making a standard €1.50 bus or metro journey worth 30 bottles. There are, even, electric buses operating within the main tourist areas of Rome, such as the 119.

I hope that this environmental content has given you some ideas on how to incentivise plastic recycling in your organisation and that, if you visit Rome, you will join in the Recylcing scheme and remember to recycle any plastic bottles that you purchase.

In addition to this article, you can view the YouTube video on this recycling scheme here.

I welcome any comments that you may have on this article on the Rome recycling trial or the YouTube video.

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