University of Glasgow unveils solution to plastic waste | Glasgow Chamber of Commerce
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University of Glasgow unveils solution to plastic waste

Taking the fight against plastic pollution a step further, the University of Glasgow has installed a reverse vending machine for the return of used plastic drinks bottles.

The machine – located in the Fraser Building – makes a donation to charity for every container recycled.

Reverse vending has operated for decades in many Scandinavian countries where recycling rates are often double those in Scotland. The system was introduced in Sweden in 1984, where 90% of household waste is recycled, in comparison to 44% in Scotland.

Earlier this year, the Scottish Government made a commitment to develop a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for single-use drinks containers, which will be rolled out across Scotland. Zero Waste Scotland is currently devising the scheme.

The reverse vending machine, located in the University’s Fraser Building, will initially accept plastic bottles only, with a donation in return for each container going to the Beatson Pebble Appeal, which raises funds for the University’s cancer research. After a trial period, the machine will also accept drink cans, and will dispense cash tokens for each donation, worth 10 pence and which can be used in university shops on campus.

John MacDonald, director of vending machine suppliers Excel Vending, said, “The reverse vending machine has a 360-degree recognition system so it will pick up the barcode, the material of the bottles and its size and dimension.

“It’s easy to use: you just insert the bottle, which is crush, compacted, and dropped into a bag at the bottom. There is enough storage for 800 cans and 400 plastic bottles, which can then be collected.

“The machine allows greater control of the quality of the recyclable product, which prevents it becoming contaminated and destined for landfill.”

Scott Girvan, retail manager at the University, said, “This is part of our drive to increase sustainability and reduce waste across the University. The resulting clean and properly sorted recycling will be a valuable resource, so the machine will effectively pay for itself.”

Kate Powell, President of the Students’ Representative Council, commented, “We are pleased to hear about this development and excited about its implementation. We hope the University continues these steps to make our campus more sustainable and environmentally friendly.”

Pictured: Students Tahsina Akbar, 28, and Ahmed Prapan, 27, are the first to try out the University’s new reverse vending machine. 


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