Turning Recycling into a Game

Software startup makes recycling fun

Recycling plastic bottles.

(Rokas Tenys / Shutterstock.com)

How often do you walk past a recycling bin or machine, and realize you've forgotten your empty bottles yet again? Thanks to Greenbean's new super-recycling machines, this is a thing of the past for college students across the state of Massachusetts.
Currently active on eight college campuses, Greenbean machines gamify the recycling process, incorporating real-time analytics and social media. They also give users feedback on the amount of energy they've saved and the number of glass bottles, plastic bottles and aluminum cans rescued from ending up in landfills. The machines refund the 5 cent container deposit either straight into a PayPal account, or as a donation to charity. The program is getting rave reviews in college papers, and thousands of fans are following updates on the Greenbean Facebook page.
A major measure of the program's success is that participants are depositing materials even if they know they won't get 5 cents back – that's how much they want to take part in the game!
Eventually, the startup plans to station machines at airports, sporting venues, and large condominium complexes - so everyone can play the game of recycling.

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