Sydney installs machines that offer bus tickets in exchange for recycling
Image: City of Sydney

The machines can take and crush around 2,000 to 3,000 containers before they automatically email an adjacent store to tell staff they’re full. The store owners then empty the machine and send the contents off for recycling.

The move is an attempt to encourage more people to recycle their cans and bottle, and is part of a broader plan to set up an Australia-wide cash-for-recycling scheme, like the one currently in action in South Australia.

So far three machines have been installed around Sydney’s CBD, and they’re offering two-for-one food truck vouchers, bus tickets, or a 10 cent donation to charity group Clean Up Australia in exchange for rubbish. Recyclers can also choose to go into the draw to win a prime seat on the harbour for Sydney’s New Year’s Eve celebrations or earn points on an Envirobank points card. 

Reverse vending machines also exist in other towns and cities across Australia, but not all offer the same rewards.

Even before being officially announced last week, three of Sydney's machines had already filled up with more than 6,000 containers. And within the first three days of being launched, more than 10,000 containers were recycled between just two machines in Haymarket and Circular Quay.

Obviously these machines will only do a small part to counteract the effect of rubbish on the environment - according to the City of Sydney, around 15,000 bottles and cans are littered or thrown into landfill every MINUTE across Australia - but it’s hoped that the machines will increase awareness about recycling. Currently only about 42 percent of New South Wales’ bottles and cans are recycled each year.

“Container deposit schemes significantly increase recycling, reduce waste and protect wildlife and the environment from plastic pollution,” said Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore in a press release.

“We’re taking what action we can to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, but will continue to lobby state and federal governments for reform on this issue.”