University of Dundee University of Dundee
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27 February 2013

'Reverse vending machines' offer rewards for recyclers

Eco-conscious students and staff at the University of Dundee will be able to cash in on their good work following the introduction of an innovative 'Recycle and Reward' scheme on campus.

The University is one of nine companies and organisations across Scotland trialling the projects, which will reward people for recycling glass, aluminium and plastic (PET) drinks containers through a range of incentives such as money back, discount vouchers or vouchers for donations to charities.

'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 4th-10th 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.

"We're really excited about having the new reverse vending machines on campus and believe they can make a real difference to recycling levels," said Trudy Cunningham, Environment & Sustainability Officer at the University.

"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."

Green Week is held as part of National Climate Week, and events will take place on campus. Each weekday will focus on another aspect relating to environmentalism. The schedule is:

  • Monday, 4th March - Energy & Water Awareness Day.
  • Tuesday, 5th March - Waste Aware Day
  • Wednesday, 6th March - Green Travel Day
  • Thursday, 7th March - Healthy Eating Day
  • Friday, 8th March - Fair Trade Day.

More information about the programme for each day is available at

The reverse vending machines will be officially launched as part of Waste Aware Day, and students, staff and visitors will be encouraged to make use of the facilities. The machines that are located outside Dundee University Students Association, Dalhousie Building, and Matthew Building all accept cans and plastic bottles while at Belmont Tower only accepts plastic bottles.

In total, nine 'Recycle and Reward' schemes will be piloted at 14 locations including retail outlets, event venues, shopping centres, schools and colleges, as part of the Scottish Government's Zero Waste Scotland programme.

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.

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.

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment Richard Lochhead 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.

"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."

For media enquiries contact:
Grant Hill
Press Officer
University of Dundee
Nethergate, Dundee, DD1 4HN
TEL: 01382 384768
MOBILE: 07854 953277