Glasgow University pioneers “reverse vending machine”

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Credit: University of Glasgow

Andrew McCluskey
Online Editor

The University of Glasgow has become the first university in the UK to introduce a “reverse vending machine.” The machine, located in the Fraser Building will allow students to receive incentives to deposit used bottles for recycling.

The device implements a deposit-return scheme, wherein a small surcharge is added to the price of recyclable bottles and cans, which is then refunded when the empty container is deposited at the machine. The aim of this is to encourage recycling. This kind of scheme has found great success in Scandinavia, where recycling rates are much higher than in Scotland. The Scottish Government has made a commitment to develop a deposit return scheme for drink containers across the country.

The machine currently accepts only plastic bottles, and will donate money to the Beatson Pebble Appeal, who raise funds to support the university’s cancer research. After this initial trial, the machine will accept aluminium cans in addition to plastic bottles, and will accept containers from any retailer. Once the trial is over, the machine will pay out in the form of tokens that can be used in shops.

The machine can store up to 400 plastic bottles and 800 cans, which are crushed and sorted after being deposited. The University will be using the trial period to monitor the machine’s usage.