Feeding bottles into a reverse vending machine, Source: Depositphotos

Gabrovo has pioneered RVM recycling in Bulgaria

Gabrovo has pioneered RVM recycling in Bulgaria

It rewards residents with points, which they can accumulate to get rewards

Although reverse vending machines for the collection of empty packaging have been available in many European countries for some time now, the technology only made its debut in Bulgaria last year. And the first city to implement the system there was Gabrovo.

So far, the results appear to be promising, which can pave the way for the wider application of this concept in the Balkan country. In the first eight months after the installation of the system, more than 300,000 packaging items were handed over by the residents.

The machines take in plastic bottles (up to 3 litres in size) and aluminium cans and in return dispense vouchers that can be exchanged for various prizes. Each returned bottle equals one point.

When environmentally conscious citizens return their empty bottles, they can accumulate points to get items, such as notebooks made of recycled paper, tote bags, books, ecological board games, t-shirts and hiking equipment. Additionally, they can get discount vouchers for grocery shopping.

Children are the target audience

Fostering green habits among the locals is a noble initiative, but the organizers know that if this kind of initiative is to succeed and take root it will need to be widely accepted by the youngsters.

For young families, the eco-initiative is an opportunity to create habits in their children.

"We have shown my son what happens in the ocean with the garbage. This is how we raise children, and there are more and more of us," explained a mother, talking to the Bulgarian National Radio.

The first two reverse vending machines were placed in strategic spots, which young people tend to frequent. One is next to a sports centre, and the other is near the local “Hristo Botev” football stadium.

Some of the prizes, which can be claimed against collected points, are provided by the Municipality, and others by business partners supporting the initiative.



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