Sydney - June 23, 2014: Ian Keirnan of Clean Up Australia deposits a plastic bottle into the new Envirobank reverse vending recycling machine. Photo by Jamie Williams/City of Sydney

Posted by & filed under City News.

The concept of reverse vending machines is one that has been debated over several years by the City of Sydney Council and is now officially being trialled in Sydney’s inner city.

These machines are designed to accept empty plastic bottles or cans from Sydneysiders and reward the user with a “small gift or charity donation”, according to a council media release.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore described the machines as “vending machines with a twist that will encourage Sydneysiders to be even better at recycling plastic bottles and aluminium cans”.

Council is trialling the initiative by installing the machines in Dixon Street Mall, Alfred Street, Haymarket and Circular Quay. A similar container deposit project was undertaken in South Australia and is reported to have raised recycling rates to ninety percent, according to council, councillors hope that the reverse vending machine project in Sydney’s inner city will have a similar effect.

This initiative is being implemented in response to a broader recycling problem in Sydney and NSW that council is tackling through a range of new projects.

“In 2013 beverage containers and their associated rubbish made up 41 per cent of the total rubbish and 59 per cent of the top ten rubbish items reported by volunteers in NSW,” said Clean Up Australia founder and chairman Ian Kiernan.

“This is a serious problem. We need better ways to capture these containers, turning them from rubbish into a resource. The cleanest and most accessible solution we have seen is the reverse vending model.”

To accompany the City’s trial of reverse vending machines, council also plans to implement strategies to increase recycling rates of batteries, light bulbs and mobiles phones.