Turkey Wants to Save the Environment, One Commuter at a Time

Istanbul's reverse vending machines accept recyclables for metro fare.

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Istanbul offers many gems for tourists and locals. Whether it’s their beautiful mosques that sit on nearly every street corner, the bustle of the Grand Bazaar, or visiting a local vendor to enjoy some seafood under the Galata Bridge, Turkey’s largest city has plenty to offer. Now, the city is in the midst of turning the popular tourist destination into a thriving metropolitan that future generations can enjoy by giving commuters a way to decrease the plastic waste.

In exchange for credit on the metro cards and various other forms of transportations, commuters hand in their plastic for sorting and recycling. The Smart Mobile Waste Transfer Centers will make a positive impact on the inhabitants of the historic city.

The vending machine-like operations include a scanner and the ability to ‘assign value’ to the plastic item and crush, shred, and sort it into bins. The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality has already installed 25 machines in various locations around the city, and are planning on adding 100 more by the end of the year. The Daily Sabah reported that inhabitants produce nearly 17,000 tons of garbage per day. With the inclusion of the vending machines as part of the commuter’s daily routine, the city government hopes that can reduce the amount of trash that damages the environment.

Although the machines and idea sound futuristic, both London and Moscow have added their own environmental protection devices to lessen pollution on a mass scale. One 27-year old designer residing in London invented a device using covered plastic sheets to generate electricity from the whooshing wind of the tube and train cars.

Using a slightly different approach to encouraging residents and tourists to live a healthier life, a machine in a Moscow subway station granted free tickets to those who could complete 30 squats in two minutes.

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