The innovative “Recycle and Reward” scheme is being introduced across the campus of Dundee University under one of nine trial projects in Scotland.
The scheme will allow both students and staff to cash in for recycling glass, aluminium and plastic drinks containers through a range of incentives such as money back, discount vouchers or vouchers for donations to charities.
A university spokesman explained: “Reverse vending machines have been installed at four locations across the university estate. Instead of inserting money for a product, recyclers will put suitable items in the machine and receive 5p for each aluminium can and 3p for each plastic bottle. The new initiative will be officially launched during the university’s annual Green Week from 4 to 10 March.
“It is hoped that the local pilot projects, part of the Scottish Government’s Zero Waste Scotland programme, will encourage people to recycle more and limit the amount of used drinks containers going to landfill.”
He added: “Similar initiatives have proven successful in increasing recycling rates in Germany, South Australia and Scandinavia and the local pilots, which will run until September 2013, will be independently monitored and evaluated to assess the potential impact the roll-out of similar schemes could have on recycling rates in Scotland.”
Trudy Cunningham, the environment and sustainability officer at the university, said: “We’re really excited about having the new reverse vending machines on campus and believe they can make a real difference to recycling levels.
“There is now a financial as well as ecological incentive for people to recycle and, as students know, every penny counts. It is vital that we continue to encourage people to change their habits and the way they think about waste and this is another way of getting them to do so.”
Each year, around 22,000 tonnes of plastic drinks bottles alone go to landfill in Scotland. It is estimated that were these bottles separated for recycling it would be worth up to £6million to the economy.
Richard Lochhead, the Scottish Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment, said: “Years ago, we thought nothing of taking our empty glass bottles back to the shops with the added bonus of getting cash back in our pocket.
“Now thanks to modern technology we are breathing new life into this traditional approach through the Recycle and Reward scheme. By offering customers incentives such as money back or vouchers for recycling their glass bottles and cans when out shopping, at college or travelling to work, I hope we can encourage more people to recycle on the go.”
He added: ““Even small steps like recycling more drinks containers can have a big impact on our environment. I hope this new scheme will encourage everyone to go that bit further, helping us to become a zero waste society. By taking small actions to go greener together we benefit Scotland today and for future generations.”