An idea too good to overlook

Last month City of Sydney implemented a scheme laden with the potential to deliver multiple positive social and environmental outcomes. Two new recycling machines capable of holding 2,000 empty deposited plastic bottles or cans are now available for use, and in return the user will be rewarded with a small donation to charity, a 2-for-1 food voucher from a local food truck or go into a draw to win two tickets to the 2014 Sydney New Year’s Eve Dawes Point event.

When the reverse vending machines are at capacity, they automatically send an email to council informing them it is full.

As the inner city population of Australia's capital cities increases, so too does the amount of waste and particularly littered waste. The basis of the below comment has seen City of Sydney take action.

Beverage containers now outstrip cigarette butts as the most littered item (taken from the National Top 10 rubbish items collected on Clean Up Australia Day). 15,000 bottles and cans are littered or landfilled in Australia every minute.

It is a fact that a ‘cash for container’ scheme, will reduce litter and increase recycling rates to 80 – 95%. South Australia is leading the way with such a scheme and has double the rate of recycling than the rest of the country.

City of Sydney
Image courtesy Science Alert

People who deposit bottles and cans in the reverse vending machines will not only be keeping the streets and the harbour clean, they will be rewarded with a small gift or charity donation.

The City has tried using recycling bins in public areas, but levels of contamination made it impossible to recycle the materials collected. The beauty of these machines is that they accept only items that can be recycled and reject anything else.

City of Sydney


Although in its infancy, the scheme holds a real prospect of achieving some important social and environmental goals, and not just harbourside. The potential for all citizens, including the homeless, to benefit by using the recycling machine, the potential for a better environmental outcome and potential to increase charitable donations makes the scheme a goer on many levels.

Great ideas such as the recycling machine will invariably need some fine-tuning but I would think it will eventually spread nationwide, including little old Melbourne.

More information is available at the City of Sydney project website.

Lead image courtesy


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