Reverse vending machines encourage plastic recycling.

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Recycling plastic at the subway
By María Vila Rebolo
Let’s say you are in Istanbul but you don’t have enough cash for the bus fare… No worries! You can now refill your travel card with recycled plastic bottles. The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IBB) has an environmentally friendly system that lets you top up your card by recycling plastic. They have installed automated "Smart Mobile Waste Transfer Machines" across the city which take used plastic bottles and containers as payment. The machine issues a credit corresponding to the value of each plastic item entered. These reverse vending machines have been installed in 25 locations around the city, and the plan is to have at least 100 of them very soon, with the hope of reducing 17,000 tons of garbage each day.

These sophisticated machines will feature an electronic interface to scan and assign a value to whatever piece of plastic is put inside. Commuters will receive refund credits for their "Istanbulkart" cards which can be used on the city's public transport system and for several other municipal services as well. The machines are also able to recognize, sort out, crush, shred and store the discarded plastic. One recycled plastic bottle produces enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for a few hours. This project is a big step toward increasing awareness of recycling, which remains low in both Istanbul and the rest of Turkey.


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