European Cities Increase Bottle Recycling for Public Transport Policy

One-million plastic bottles are purchased every 60 seconds across the globe- meet the countries that are trying to clean up the mess.

More and more European cities are introducing bottle recycling facilities that subsidise the price of their public transport fare, as evidenced by recent moves in Rome, Istanbul, Germany and parts of the UK.

According to a report from the World Economic Forum, in Rome, where the scheme is being tested at three of its busiest metro stations, “special machines compact the bottles and add credit to a user’s metro travel application.”

“This summer, Rome was gripped by a waste emergency, as rubbish piled up on the streets in the scorching sun. A major landfill site and two of the city’s treatment plans have been closed, and its main waste contractor says there is no where to put half of the capital’s rubbish.”

We reported on this crisis a few months ago, where residents were likening the state of the ancient capital to the third-world. This resulted in a new environmental policy from the Rome city municipality, named the Recicli + Viaggi (recycle and travel) initiative.

Not so coincidentally, Italians are the largest per capita consumers of bottled water each year in Europe, accounting for around 188 litres per person, translating to a lot of empty bottles on the streets that the council are hoping will make their way into recycling stations.

Somewhat surprisingly, China was one of the first nations in the world to introduce a bottle recycling program that reduces the cost of a public transport user’s fare. Recycling stations are attached to a station’s main hall, or just outside the terminal where an individual can swap plastic and glass bottles for a discounted ticket price.

The UK’s city of Leeds introduced an initiative where drivers were able to subsidise the price of parking with recycling plastic bottles. Each bottle was worth a reported £0.20 which drivers were able to use toward the cost of parking in the city’s CBD. Germany has had reverse vending machines across its cities and rural areas for years now, offering monetary incentives to those bringing plastic bottles to be recycled at one of the machines.

There is also a noteworthy global trend in countries offering incentives for the public to recycle plastic and glass bottles, among them the Indonesian city of Surabaya, which allows passengers on buses to pay for the fare purely in recycled cups and bottles. A two-hour bus ride costs 10 plastic cups, or five plastic bottles. In Pamohi, an Indian city in the state of Assam, the Akshar Foundation School encourages parents to pay for their children’s tuition with plastic waste.

According to the founders of World Earth Day, one million plastic bottles are purchased every minute around the globe, and plastic bottles make up a large portion of the 275-million tonnes of plastic waste generated by the globe’s population each year.

The World Economic Forum has noted that 8-million tonnes of plastic make their way to oceans each year, and take as long as 500 years to degrade, and in the process of degrading, dangerous microplastics enter the biosphere and the food-chain- all the way up to human drinking water.

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