You can pick up all sorts of goods from vending machines these days, beyond just bottled drinks or snacks.
But the drawback to this convenience is often the waste created in the process with single-use packaging, which most people just throw away.
That’s why a new type of vending machine is now sprouting up around Singapore to change this.
F&N Foods and the National Environment Agency (NEA) call them ‘Reverse Vending Machines’ (RVMs), as they collect used plastic drink bottles and drink cans instead of dispensing them.
The two organisations jointly launched the RecycleNSave initiative on 31 October 2019, by unveiling the first RVM at Our Tampines Hub with Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Masagos Zulkifli.
There are currently 10 of these machines around Singapore, and 40 more will be set up by March 2020.
To encourage Singaporeans to recycle, they have also partnered with FairPrice to give out a small incentive:
For every four empty drink bottles or cans deposited, users will receive a $0.20 FairPrice discount coupon.
The RVMs have been programmed to identify and sort empty drink bottles and aluminium cans with a readable barcode on them.
They are able to accept bottles of up to 2-litre capacity and up to 15cm in diameter, and can hold up to 600 of these at a time.
Deposited bottles and cans will be flattened inside the machines, and later collected along with other recyclables in the shopping mall.
After the launch at Our Tampines Hub, Straits Times reported that some users have had issues as the RVM still isn’t able to read some barcodes.
In response, F&N said they will be working to add new barcodes into the RVMs’ database, which can currently recognise 1,000 barcodes at the moment.
Beyond changing Singaporeans’ behaviour, NEA said the initiative is also part of their effort to “test out different public collection systems” as they implement an “extended producer responsibility scheme for packaging waste over the next few years”.
“NEA will continue to work with partners and stakeholders to encourage the public to recycle more, and to recycle right,” said NEA CEO Tan Meng Dui.
If you’d like to recycle your drink bottles and cans, you can find the RVMs at FairPrice supermarkets and shopping malls in locations like Ang Mo Kio Hub, Waterway Point, Changi City Point and JEM.
Locate a machine here.
Featured Image Credit: F&N Foods