Next gen ends recycling bottleneck

A second generation of vending machines that collect plastic bottles has been put into use since Saturday, with the new machines coming with bottle recognition technology.

Stage two of the Environmental Protection Department’s reverse vending machine pilot scheme, is aimed at enabling more people to use the machines for clean recycling of plastic beverage containers.

Authorities launched the scheme in the first quarter of last year to test feasibility of such machines and to pave the way for the implementation of the producer responsibility scheme on plastic beverage containers in the future.

A total of 60 machines were installed at public places, government facilities and shopping centers deemed to have the pedestrian traffic to make them worthwhile in the first phase.

The machines offer instant rebates via e-payment platforms to encourage returns.

With the start of phase two, a total of 120 machines will be distributed across the city.

A department spokesman said improvements have been made in the latest machines, such as upgraded bottle recognition technology, a higher processing speed and a greater container compression ratio to provide a higher storage capacity that would allow each machine to store 1,200 compressed 500 milliliter bottles, 20 percent more than before. Collection of the bottles have also been stepped up.

“Positive responses from the public have been received since the rollout of the pilot scheme as evidenced in the quantity of plastic beverage containers recovered by the RVMs in recent months, which reached about 1,000 per day per unit on average,” the spokesman said.

By end of last month, more than 22 million plastic beverage bottles have been collected under the pilot scheme.

“All the plastic beverage containers collected under the pilot scheme will be delivered to suitable local recyclers for recycling to ensure the conversion of waste to resource,” the spokesman said.

He also said the government-appointed contractor will provide an ambassador service to assist the public in using the machines properly.

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