As cities around the world start deploying deposit systems, Istanbul, with a population of nearly 15 million, has taken its efforts to increase recycling rates a step further. It now allows residents to top up public transportation cards by trading in plastic bottles or aluminum beverage cans.
As part of the Turkish city’s deposit system solution, the city transportation pass, known as an Istanbul Card (Instanbul Kart), can be topped up at reverse vending machines, called Smart Mobile Waste Transfer Centers, which can scan and assign a value to the packaging waste before crushing, shredding, and sorting it.
Once a user inserts an empty container, the machine’s sensor scans it to assess the size of the recyclable, with a 0.33-liter plastic bottle returning 2 Turkish cents (kurus), a 0.5-liter bottle 3 cents, a 1-liter bottle 6 cents, and a 1.5-liter bottle 9 cents. The machine will top up an Istanbul Card with 7 cents for a 0.33-liter beverage can and 9 cents for a 0.5-liter can.
With a single fare priced at TRY 2.60 (EUR 0.41), it takes depositing at least 28 plastic 1.5 liter-bottles or 0.5-liter cans to get a full fare top-up.
The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality plans to install at least 100 of these machines at 25 locations by end-2018, while one is already operational at the ITU-Ayazaga metro station.
With the smart machines, Istanbul’s waste management department and the municipality’s Smart City Technologies Company (Isbak) will contribute to environmental protection, the municipality has said, according to reports.
Other cities in the world that enable paying for public transportation with plastic waste include Beijing, China, Surabaya, Indonesia, and Sydney, Australia.
Proven waste collection method
Deposit refund systems are a proven waste collection method that guarantees high material recycling rates, which is why they are recommended in strategic documents of many international organizations, Anna Larsson, Director, Circular Economy Project Development, RELOOP, recently wrote in an op-ed for Balkan Green Energy News.
10 European countries have a deposit refund system for beverage containers: Sweden (since 1984), Iceland (since 1989), Germany (since 2003), Finland (since 1996), Norway (since 1999), Denmark (since 2002), the Netherlands (since 2005), Estonia (since 2005), Croatia (since 2006) and Lithuania, where the system was introduced in 2016 and resulted with 92% collection rate in the second year of the operation, Larsson wrote.