Istanbul commuters get $32,000 through recycling

Istanbul commuters get $32,000 through recycling

Emre Eser – ISTANBUL
Istanbul commuters get $32,000 through recycling

Istanbul residents have earned a total of 179,540 Turkish Liras ($31,781) in a year through smart recycling machines which allow residents to top up their transportation passes in return for used bottles and aluminum products.

The Metropolitan Municipality of Istanbul (İBB) started installing vending machines at transportation hubs on Oct. 1, 2018 as part of a “zero waste” campaign. Since then, commuters of the metropolis deposited 3,415,760 plastic bottles, weighing 66,170 kilograms, to top up their transportation passes in an amount worth 127,779 liras ($22,607) in total.

In the same period, some 675,000 aluminum cans were deposited through the smart vending machines, allowing commuters to lower their travel expenses by 51,761 liras ($9,159) in total.

The first reverse vending machine was installed at Istanbul’s İTÜ-Ayazağa metro station last year. Currently, some 100 machines are in service across Istanbul, according to the İBB website.

When a passerby inserts an empty plastic bottle, the machine’s sensor scans it to assess the size of the plastic.

A 0.33-liter bottle returns 2 kuruş (one Turkish Lira is equal to 100 kuruş), a 0.5-liter bottle returns 3 kuruş, a 1-liter bottle returns 6 kuruş and a 1.5-liter bottle returns 9 kuruş.

As for aluminum beverage cans, the machine returns 7 kuruş for a 0.33-liter can and 9 kuruş for a 0.5-liter can.

Since one fare costs 2.60 liras, one needs to deposit at least 28 plastic 1.5-liter bottles or 0.5-liter aluminum cans in the machine in order to earn the price for a full fare.

The initiative was undertaken by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality in an attempt to encourage recycling.

The project, officially called “Reverse Vending Machine for Public Transportation Card Credit,” was granted an award at the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) summit organized in the Swedish capital Stockholm between June 9 and 12.

Of the non-recycled waste, 61 percent was burned to produce electricity and the remaining 28 percent buried with no use, İBB told AFP recently.

Turkey produces around 31 million tons of waste annually, out of which 11 percent was recycled, according to the Turkish foundation Mind Your Waste.

Turkey ranks 108th with a score of 52.96 in the 2018 Environmental Performance Index (EPI), produced by the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, that analyzes the environmental performance of 180 nations.