North Macedonia will soon be catching up with the global trend of waste recycling through deposit refund schemes as local packaging waste management firm Pakomak is preparing to install the country’s first reverse vending machines for plastic bottles and aluminum cans. In exchange for deposited beverage containers, the machines will issue “green points” that can be used to pay for products and public services, such as utility bills, public transit fares, and parking, according to local media.
The project to introduce reverse vending machines (RVMs) in North Macedonia is supported by the Fund for Innovation and Technology Development, and the deployment of the first prototype is expected in the first half of 2020, local media reported, citing MIA.
Initially, Pakomak will install these machines in several municipalities, but the long-term plan is to cover the entire territory of North Macedonia. The goal of introducing RVMs is to encourage citizens to quickly and efficiently engage in waste sorting, according to reports.
Deposit refund systems – a proven waste collection method
A similar system was introduced in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, about a year ago, allowing citizens to top up public transportation cards by trading in plastic bottles or aluminum beverage cans at RVMs. The machines, also known as Smart Mobile Waste Transfer Centers, can scan and assign a value to packaging waste before crushing, shredding, and sorting it.
Other cities in the world that enable paying for public transportation with plastic waste include Beijing, China, Surabaya, Indonesia, and Sydney, Australia.
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.
Ten 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 in a 92% collection rate in the second year of the operation, Larsson wrote.