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Vending Machine recycling in China prints Subway tickets

by John Brian Shannon John Brian Shannon

A new twist on recycling. Beijing’s subway stations now feature vending machines that accept used soda pop bottles and print a coupon for subway riders.

bottle return vending machine
China’s subway stations have installed vending machines for soda pop bottle returns. The machine prints a coupon, giving a discount on the subway ticket price.

The collection and return of soda pop bottles in China, a country of 1.4 billion citizens, is a multi-billion dollar per year business. Literally, hundreds of thousands of bike-riding collectors fan out across the countryside everyday to find and return billions of bottles and cans for strictly economic reasons.

Unlike here in the West, where our collective green conscience demands that we recycle our plastics and metals, wherever and whenever possible.

In some areas of North America, the Cub Scouts come to your door to relieve you of your growing pile of cans and bottles when they do a collection drive, while in other areas of the continent, people put it off as long as possible, then finally take a full Saturday to empty the garage, loading all of the ‘empties’ into the car for the wonderfully boring trip to the recycling station.

In China, citizens can now return their empty bottles for refund every day of the week, thanks to a new and growing vending-machine network located inside China’s subway stations, which takes the bottles, sorts them by colour, and compresses each one to 1/3 the original size and hands the depositor a subway coupon which lowers the subway fare.

“Return enough bottles and you get a free subway ride.”

Hey! I should write ads for the green economy movement!

[The “Money for Nothing” song is paraphrased here, with sincere apologies to Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits]

 “Now that’s the way you do it,
you drop your bottles and you ride for free!”

“Let me tell ya, those Chinese ain’t dumb!”

“Maybe get a blister on your little finger,
but then you get on a… subway free run.”

OK, I admit it needs a bit more work. But really, using vending machines to help rid us of our empty soda bottles and cans is a great idea to enhance existing bottle and can recycling programs here in North America.

Especially in the West where the coupon dispensed by the vending machines could be redeemed for anything, including online Apple iTunes purchases, movie theatre tickets, or other retail goods or services.

Retailers should think seriously about supporting this program, and not just to splash their advertising on the vending machine. There are billions of dollars of recyclable plastics and cans, which could easily be turned into millions of dollars of sales per year, just sitting in garages, parking lots, and on vacant lands.

Yes! Install these at the entrances to our National Parks, in shopping centre parking lots, and at Rest Areas along the freeway.

Retail sales will increase, while our continent looks cleaner, and more plastic gets recycled.

 “So, take this suggestion,
go return those bottles,
and let’s have some fun!”

OK, I’ll work on it. But in the meantime…

“Take this suggestion,
and get your flicks for free!”
‘ (Netflix)

Hey, retailers, see where I’m going with this? Hey, environmentally conscious people, does this resonate with you?

Sorry, I gotta go, my Agent is on Line One.



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