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Coke, MIT Machines Reward Consumers for Recycling

Coca-Cola, Kroger and MIT are all rolling out bottle recycling machines that reward consumers for their deposits.

Wholly owned Coke subsidiary Coca-Cola Recycling has started up its fourth Reimagine Beverage Container recycling center at a Kroger supermarket in Irving, Texas, Plastics News reports. The company said that its first three sites, also at Krogers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, collected more than 2.3 containers in just under a year. Of the containers collected, 60 percent were PET bottles.

The initiative will open a fifth recycling center in the metroplex, in Little Elm, Texas, next month, and has plans to launch in other states, though Coca-Cola would not elaborate on these.

Reimagine machines (pictured) scan, sort and crush customers’ bottles and cans at a rate of up to 200 a minute, giving them reward points that can be traded for free or discounted products, used to enter sweepstakes, or donated to local schools. Coke developed the centers in partnership with Environmental Products Corp. of Naugatuck, Conn.

Coca-Cola Recycling president Alain Robichaud said the initiative’s results show that companies can raise recycling rates when they make it easy, accessible, rewarding and fun.

Earlier this month, the New York Times reported that the National Parks canceled plans to halt the sale of disposable water bottles in the Grand Canyon, after discussions with Coca-Cola, a major donor to the National Parks Foundation.

Plastics News said Coke has not responded to questions about the Grand Canyon situation.

Meanwhile, MIT has installed a recycling machine from start-up Greenbean, as part of a pilot program sponsored by the university’s department of facilities. The machine sorts containers, crushes cans, and rewards users with five cent refunds where applicable. Users can have the money deposited to a PayPal or university account, or donated to charity.

The machine also calculates the energy saved by each deposit, and uses Facebook to track users’ deposits in a competition.

Greenbean plans to install a machine soon at Tufts University, with future expansion at other colleges.

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5 thoughts on “Coke, MIT Machines Reward Consumers for Recycling

  1. It is about time that something smart and effective was done. Although I am a little put off by Coca-Cola pushing the sale of plastic bottles at the Grand Canyon. It sounds like they are worried that they will lose money and they will not allow that to happen no matter what the impact.

  2. Yet – Coke in Australia is fighting container deposit legislation that also rewards container return for recycling.
    Although promoting recycling is a good idea, I think Coke are trying to also have information on consumers and their drinking habits as a commercial benefit.

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