RECYCLING in Spain is about to become rewarding, literally.
Following successful trials in Catalonia, national waste management company Ecoembes is setting up ‘yellow slot machines’ for recycling bottles and cans, complementing their yellow bin scheme for aluminium and plastics.
There are currently 10 railway stations that have the machines, all of them in the Barcelona metropolitan area, but Ecoembes plans to install a total of 100 by the end of 2020.
To use the slot machines, which are called RECICLOS, you have to download the Reciclos app and use the QR code on there to collect credits.
These can then be redeemed for rewards, including discounts on public transport, or the chance to win prizes such as an electric bicycle.
Or if you’re feeling altruistic, you can convert the credits into donations for non-governmental organisations such as Medicos Sin Fronteras (Doctors without borders), which has received €2000 through the scheme this year, or use them to contribute to improvements in your municipality like the creation of playgrounds from recycled materials.
However, there is a cap on what you can do, as stacking up endless credits is not allowed. While this is apparently to discourage people from consuming more drinks in cans and plastic bottles, the reasoning ignores the success of similar schemes elsewhere in Europe.
In Germany and Norway, for example, people can feed their bottles and cans into machines at supermarkets for cash.
The ease of this system has contributed to both countries having impressively high collection and recycling rates for PET plastic bottles. As of 2015, Germany had a 94% collection rate, in comparison to Spain’s 60% and the UK’s 53%, and the recycling rate in Norway as of two years ago was a staggering 97%.
Nonetheless, it is a big step forward for Spain and the fight to reduce plastic waste.