Homer Simpson trapped in vending machines – S05.E6 “Marge on the Lam”

Anyone has at least once in his/her life (1) checked the coins compartment of a vending machine to see if, by any chance, there were some forgotten money; and/or (2) hit a vending machine after inserting coins to get its snack bar stuck in the spring. Today, vending machines are getting modernized but may not overcome task #2. For example, contactless payment is a solution for #1, but not #2, since you could still find yourself hitting the machine, if the bar is stuck in the spring. However, the advent of reverse vending machine may create new habits as you get a reward after inserting things – not money – into it. Interesting right? Let’s see how vending machines are used to drive change.

Recycle with vending machine
Recycling implies sorting out the garbage and put them in the correct garbage bin. According to Planet Aid, recycling rates around the world are quite different from one country to another.
The task can appear annoying for some, but natural for others. Different ways exist to encourage people to recycle: raising their awareness, putting rules or turning it into a funny activity. An original  way that is the use of reverse vending machine. The users not only feel good about their positive action toward the environment, they also get a reward for that. As Georges would say “What else?”

New DIY: Drink, Insert, Yell!
In 2013, IKEA has launched in its Edinburgh and Glasgow’s stores, its reverse vending machine to recycle any glass, plastic or aluminum drinks containers. For each item deposited into the machine, the shopper is offered the choice of a 0,10 GBP (about 0,13 EUR) voucher to redeem in-store (also meaning shoppers would still need to recycle about 320 drink containers to acquire the VARIERA / UTRUSTA), or a 0,10 GBP donation to one of the stores’ selected charities.

Likewise, Sidney and Beijing have installed their drink container recycling machines in 2014. In Beijing, a public transportation credit or extra mobile phone minutes credit are given to people inserting their empty plastic bottles into the machine. The credit is valued based on the worth of the item as per the barcode scan made by the machine. In Sidney, the feeding of the machine is similar: empty drink cans or plastic bottles. Though, the rewards are different. The choices are:
– Being listed to win outdoor cinema tickets,
– Being listed to win an iPad Mini 2 16GB,
– Getting a 2 for 1 meal offer with the Caminito Food Truck,
– Donating your reward to Clean Up Australia or OzHarvest.
Besides, the luckiest one will be randomly selected by the machine and be offered a free ride by bus.

Source: Recycling machines  in Sidney  and  in Beijing

Source: Recycling machines in Sidney and in Beijing

The same year, Turkey has released its own concept: drink container recycling machines which feed stray cats and dogs! By inserting recyclable empty plastic bottles or cans into the opening at the top, food is poured into a bowl. If there is remaining water in the bottle, but the person does not want it anymore, the liquid can be poured into the lower opening, so that, the other bowl will be filled in with it. Besides, the machine runs with solar power. Though, it would be great if there was a similar machine for collecting cats and dogs’ poops…

Change perception with vending machine
Do you remember the great campaign made by The Coca Cola Company “Small World Machines – Bringing India and Pakistan together” in 2013? Through this machine, Indians and Pakistanis could interact, connect, play and share happiness with one another. Participants noticed that both sides had actually a lot in common. Such initiative shows how breaking down barriers and stereotypes is not difficult as it seems – especially in today’s world networks! – and bring so much: new friends!
In 2015, for the 2nd anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh, Fashion Revolution conducted a social experiment by installing a vending machine offering t-shirt at 2 EUR in Berlin. After inserting the coin, the buyer was invited to choose her/his size and got to watch a video presenting the workers work conditions… After raising people’s awareness, the question “Do you still want to buy this 2 EUR T-shirt?” appears on screen, with then 2 options: “Buy” or “Donate”.

A possible solution for Kanye and his 53-million-USD of debt?
Let’s picture the reverse vending machine used by Kanye West.


Kanye West

Option 1: The recycling vending machine case. The machine would provide actual money as reward, and Kanye would become the best recycler ever and could be mentioned by Leonardo DiCaprio in his next speech.
Option 2: The Fashion Revolution machine next model. People would watch images of Kanye and his rich enriching lifestyle, get to buy his last album (The Life of Pablo) or donate to the artist so that in both case it could help him cover his announced-53-millon-dollars of debt.


Leonardo DiCaprio

Recycling comes at the end of life of the product. So another possibility to encourage good practices would be to go back from the source: the act of buying the product. Recently, the city of Hamburg has released its “Sustainable Procurement Guidelines”. In general, buyers are invited to assess the opportunity of buying a product or a service in terms of costs and environmental impact. In addition the guidelines contain a shortlist of products to avoid, such as plastic bottles. Let’s see if this inspires?